Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Stephanie Bowlin


Nursing programs have embraced distance learning in their curricula, but discussion is ongoing about course assignments and grading criteria to increase examination scores in nursing distance learning courses. Because course examinations are a predictor of success on the postgraduate licensing examination (NCLEX-RN), the purpose of this study was to determine whether differences existed in student examination scores between nursing distance learning courses with and without points aligned to assignments. The theoretical framework was Knowles's theory of andragogy, which highlights adults' motivation and self-direction to succeed. The quantitative causal comparative study included a convenience sample of 164 students to compare archival data of 4 examination scores between 2 nursing distance-learning courses. Data analysis included an independent-groups one-tailed t test. No significant differences were found between the 2 courses, suggesting that students do not achieve higher examination scores with course points aligned with course assignments. Nursing administrators and faculty in nursing programs with a distance learning component will benefit from the findings of this study. Findings may be used to draft, revise, and implement assignment criteria and point alignment for nursing distance learning courses. Social change will occur when nursing distance learning faculty use problem-solving and critical thinking assignments, including case studies, discussion boards, group assignments, concept mapping and NCLEX-RN style testing in each nursing distance learning course. Because point alignment to course assignments do not significantly improve examination scores, implementation of problem-solving and critical thinking assignments is necessary to promote student learning and examination success.