Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Ron Childress

Second Advisor

Rudy Pauley

Third Advisor

Nega Debela

Fourth Advisor

Lynne Welch


Little is known about the skill and knowledge acquisition of nurses in the educator role. This investigation represents an attempt to design and validate a skill acquisition model for the nurse educator role. While nurse educators often have strong clinical backgrounds, they face a significant role transition as nurse educators. Dreyfus and Dreyfus provided a model for studying skill acquisition in several fields and Benner applied the model to clinical nursing. To investigate skill acquisition among nurse educators, the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition along with the National League for Nursing (NLN) Nurse Educator Competencies provided a framework for the development of the Nurse Educator Skill Acquisition Model; and a 48 item survey instrument was designed to assess study participants’ level of skill acquisition. Survey items reflect the novice to expert skill acquisition levels. Differences in skill acquisition were investigated based on demographic data such as educational preparation, work setting, program type, teaching and clinical experience, professional development, and professional development focused on curriculum and instruction. The practical application of nurse educator skill was investigated using vignettes based on each of the 8 nurse educator competencies. The study population included 339 nurse educators teaching in graduate and undergraduate nursing programs in North Carolina and West Virginia.

Results of this study show the survey instrument discriminated between 5 levels of skill acquisition – novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert, indicating that the skill acquisition model for the nurse educator role mirrors the Dreyfus Model. Participants reported a proficient level of total skill acquisition as well as a proficient level for each of the 8 NLN Nurse Educator Competencies. Nurse educators with postmaster’s certificates or doctoral degrees, who teach in graduate programs in public universities, and who have more than 10 years of teaching experience report the highest levels of skill acquisition. Reliability data show high internal consistency for the survey tool with Cronbach’s alpha coefficient at .977. Study findings indicate the Nurse Educator Skill Acquisition Model describes skill acquisition within the nurse educator role.


Nurse administrators - Education.

Education nursing.