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The Internet and its influence in learning-teaching process of nursing students


Kamila Nethielly Souza LeiteI; Sergio Ribeiro dos SantosII; Smalyanna Sgren da Costa AndradeIII; Ana Aline Lacet ZaccaraIV; Tatiana Ferreira da CostaV
INurse. Master Scholarship of the Post-Graduate Program in Nursing of the Federal University of Paraíba. João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil. E-mail: ka_mila.n@hotmail.com.  
IINurse. Doctorate in Sociology. Associate Professor of the Clinical Nursing Department ando f the Post-Graduate Program in Nursing of the Federal University of Paraíba. Leader of the Study Group and Research in Health Administration and Computer. João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil. E-mail: srsantos207@gmail.com.
IIINurse. Master Scholarship of the Post-Graduate Program in Nursing of the Federal University of Paraíba. João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil. E-mail: nana_sgren@hotmail.com.
IVNurse. Master Scholarship of the Post-Graduate Program in Nursing of the Federal University of Paraíba. João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brasil. E-mail: anazaccara@hotmail.com.
VNurse. Master Scholarship of the Post-Graduate Program in Nursing of the Federal University of Paraíba. João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brasil. E-mail: tatxianaferreira@hotmail.com.

ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to identify the most utilized Internet tools by nursing students and to describe how they perceive their influence in teaching-learning process. This is a descriptive quantitative approach carried out with 271 students. The collection occurred through a questionnaire in the months from March to April 2011, at the Federal University of Paraíba. The analysis was by simplified statistic. The results showed that 245 (90%) are female; and the search software for Internet research most often mentioned was Google 215 (79%). All participants use Internet, and 179 (66%) affirm that it is a tool that helps with studies, especially in educational research. It is concluded that the Internet has a great impact in the potential to improve the academic performance of students, although there is a need to spread the importance of the utilization of databases for nursing research. 

Keywords: Students; Internet; education; nursing.




Globalization is a multifaceted process and has occurred since the 20th century, providing interaction between countries and approximation between people who connect with the world. Thus, the effects of globalization cause changes in education, particularly in higher education, considering that the information technology and communication influences and is inserted in society and the academia, causing changes in people's lives1.

Thus, the transformations that have been taking place in industrial society that demand of information technology and communication makes us believe that we are experiencing the era of computing. Moreover, it is important to note that computer science today is a technological branch that makes the processing of information through the use of computer and other electronic equipment, which is part of the information system2.

In this context, to track the evolution of technological equipment comes the internet as a fundamental tool to the scientific community, due to the fast access to information and the almost unlimited scope to innovative discoveries and to new knowledge, providing greater approximation between people, organizations and nations. With the use of technology, scientists can interact and reveal their experiences in many different places, being accessible from anywhere in the world3.

Thus, the technology becomes something valuable in any labor action, including in the area of health, participating since the stages of preparation, during the University education to practical professional performance. The condition of adjustment to information technology constitutes a differentiated strategy to this professional future, making it the agent transformer in the decision-making process in their work environments. In this perspective, the education with the use of technology is the way capable of forming professionals and adapted to the labor market dynamic, using creativity to meet the challenges of society, encouraging health practices4.

The educator can make use of strategies for updating and qualification to adapt to different ways of teaching, looking for elaborate didactic materials adequate to new technologies. The teaching must try to promote critical thinking, innovative and mature enough to encourage the learner to develop plans, not just copying what others have already done, but creating, from the information acquired, new forms of knowledge5.

In front of the technological complexity to constant advances in society, emerged the need for approximation with the information technology, because there is a perception that the use of computers and portable electronics with wi-fi technology, enabling access to the internet, are already part of everyday life of the academic and scientific community, which provides constant updating of knowledge and information.

This study is justified by its innovative nature, updated and relevant to the teaching of nursing students, contributing to the strengthening of professional training in higher education institutions. In addition, will lead to the dissemination of knowledge of this subject, and can influence new studies in the area and lead to improvements in academia that needs to be updated with changes from the technological process. Thus, this research will contribute to the formation of more skilled and professionals connected with the network of information.

From this, it emerged the question: will the capabilities offered by the internet have been allied5 in the teaching-learning process of students of nursing? In this sense, are objectives of this study were: to identify the most commonly used internet tools for nursing students and to describe how they see its influence in the teaching-learning process. From the results obtained, it is expected to contribute with reflections on the impact of the internet as support for the teaching-learning process, in the light of the nursing students ' perceptions.


The world of the internet becomes fantastic as a tool of communication, speed and impressive speed, providing nursing students exchange experiences with people from other academic areas, breaking the barriers imposed by distance and encouraging the dissemination of knowledge.

Moreover, to facilitate the professional qualification, the information network offers specialized sites, with teachers connected to address questions of students5.

Computerization and the ease of students acquire information on the most diverse subjects in order to increase the knowledge, extol the importance of technology information and communication in professional differentiation.

For nursing education, the ways of using internet resources are diverse and vary by country or region. In developed countries, universities have more elaborate structure to take advantage of the internet, benefiting those who use this resourse6.

In underdeveloped countries, the availability of technology is limited. Thus, there is greater concern about the provision of technological resources in the institutions of education and insertion of information technology policies that allow amplification of the access to information and knowledge. In regions where policies are nonexistent or plans for access to and the use of the internet, is noticeable damage to the professionals responsible for leading the teaching-learning process6.

Without doubt, the advancement of society toward technology information can produce knowledge and conduct faculty and students in their academic research, promoting relevant educational transformations, modifying ineffective habits and expanding worldviews, through limitless information.


It is a descriptive research with quantitative approach, whereas a social research method that uses statistical techniques translating into numbers the information, so it is possible to classify them and analyze them7,8.

The population was formed by students of the Undergraduate Program in Nursing, of the Health Sciences Centre (HSC), of the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB). The sample of the study was defined after the attendance of the following inclusion criteria: to present active enrollment between the 1st and 9th period. Thus, 271 students participated in the research, out of a total of 412, as statistical calculation used to size the sample size9.
This study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Health Sciences Centre (REC/HSC), and is registered under Protocol No 754/2010 and 0580.0.126.000-10 CAAE. It is worth mentioning that, while gathering the empirical material, guidelines were carried out to the participants as to the purpose of the survey, assurance of confidentiality, possibility of cancellation and clarification about the Free and Informed Consent Term, taking into account the requirements of Resolution No. 466/12 of the National Health Council, which rules on standards and regulatory guidelines for research involving human subjects10.

As an instrument of data collection, it was used a semi-structured questionnaire, contemplating independent variables such as: age, gender, marital status and dependent variables: experience and computer use, internet use. It is highlighted that data collection occurred in the period from June to July 2011, and the analysis was performed by descriptive statistics using statistical software.


Initially it was sought to draw a profile of the nursing students of UFPB, regarding socio-demographic variables. Then it was followed the issues closely linked to the object of study, such as: the experience and use of the computer, the use of the internet and research for information. For better understanding of the empirical material obtained, the data were grouped and presented through tables.

Student profile

The average age of nursing students was 21 years old and six months, with a minimum age of 17 years and maximum of 35 years. It can be understood that we have a very young group of students who will be able to work in full juvenile age.

On the characterization of the sample, the genre that prevails is the feminine, with 245 (90%) as shown in Table 1. There are reports in the literature that most nursing workers, in hospitals of Brazil, are of the female gender, this is explained by the archetype attributed to women. It can't be disregarded the gender relations, not to run for the existence of gaps in professional training, in order to cope with the diversity of professional practice in nursing11. This is a fact also present in other cultures, whose assistance and hygiene of patients are considered as an extension of work female or feminine essence12.

As regards the marital status of students, there was a predominance of singles, corresponding to 249 (92%) individuals and only 14 (5%) are married.

Computer science experience

It is observed that 258 (95%) students have a computer in their home, and 260 (96%) have access to the worldwide network of computers internet, as evidenced by Table 1. The potential of the internet is already a reality and presents an increasingly tendency to take creative and innovative learning for students, distributed by several regions13. The implications of this technology for training and education of students are encouraging, since, according to this survey, most students of UFPB have computer and internet access.

Digital inclusion among the nursing students is a reality, this may be explained by the fact that the federal government have provided incentives and public policies geared to the acquisition of personal computers (hardware and software), besides the will that students demonstrate in being connected with technological innovations.

In a pilot study conducted with students, it was highlighted that frustration may be due to the inability of some students in surfing instruction sites or work with learning content that requires basic knowledge in data processing. On the characterization of the nursing students of UFPB, regarding experience in computer science, 231 (85%) claim to have some experience and knowledge, however 37 (14%) still did not reveal any familiarity or experience with the computer14.

These results demonstrate that there has been an evolution of nursing students, with regard to computer skills, as a result of the stimulus they receive during graduation to stay updated and search information, through the research and preparation of scientific works, whereas the UFPB offers several features that stimulate students to develop in the scientific field, such as extension projects, tutoring, the Institutional Program of Scientific Initiation Scholarships (IPSIS) and Institutional Program of Voluntary Work in Scientific Initiation (IPVWSI).

Therefore, the nursing student should be in constant training process both theoretical as practical, learning and researching, learning new technologies, identifying their concepts and policies permeated, being able to integrate and apply the new technological advents15.

All this results in the desire for more information and the electronic media is a tool that becomes the primary mechanism used by students. Whereas the process of digital inclusion is central to the academic life of future nurses and that the training is a requirement of the labor market, the result is favorable to the formation of professionals with ability to attend market demands which are very competitive.

As for the use of computers in the classroom as a learning tool, 55 (20.3%) students stated that they use them only for presentation of academic works, in the form of slides and also in research. On the other hand, 202 (74.5%) responded that they do not use the computer in the classroom. This fact calls us attention, because most students do not use their personal computer in the classroom, but only when they need to present any task with the help of the data show that, typically, is used by teachers to administer the class.
Students face the challenge of computer use, due to the inaccessibility of this equipment in the institutions of education and lack of knowledge about technology14. However, it can be observed that the majority of students who did not use the computer in the classroom, to be asked if they would like to use them as a tool to support learning, 169 (62.4%) responded yes. Some justified that the computer could give more dynamism in the lectures and additional information, and can facilitate learning. However, 75 (27.7%) stated that they would not like to use the computer in the classroom not finding it important.

These results resemble another study which shows have increasing currently demands on the learner to take responsibility for their own learning, so the student abandons his supporting position and shall be primarily responsible for their learning16.

When asked whether they would be prepared to use the internet in other places, outside the area of UFPB, 258 (95.2%) students are able to use it. Whereas training is increasingly requested by the job market, the insertion of information technology in teaching nursing is increasingly important for the training of nursing professionals.

As for programs or softwares used by students, 242 (89.3%) had more experience and familiarity in the use of the word processor Microsoft Word, using it frequently and secondly the Microsoft PowerPoint, as shown in Table 2. This result suggests that such programs are the most requested at the University, to carry out work and presentation of seminars. This shows that students have knowledge of basic programs and uses them frequently, by virtue of being the most required for graduation.

Regarding the editing of graphic/software image processing, 145 (54%) students made some use of these programs: photoshop, paint, photoscape, picasa and photofiltre. Although they are referred to, are not yet widely used softwares, in order to be sophisticated programs and also difficult to manipulate them, takes time and skill to use.
As for the e-mail  238 (88%) students say they possess and use it frequently. Most providers cited were the hotmail, gmail and yahoo. This result shows that the electronic mail (e-mail) is undoubtedly one of the most widely used internet resources by the participants, because of the ease of communication, interactivity and usefulness in research development.

Internet search software most quoted by nursing students (79%) is Google. It is known that this tool has been popularized, making possible several ways of searching for information online, in real time, in addition to the ease of search specific topics of interest, in the form of complete articles online in several areas of knowledge, being a great resource for bibliographic research in the area of nursing17.

Given the above, it is noticed that the domain level of nursing students in front of the computer use can be considered satisfactory, when 200 (74%) consider themselves good users, 53 (20%) are little experienced, and only 14 (5%) consider them very fluent. This shows the interest of nursing students from UFPB in learning and using internet resources, mainly in the academic area for access to information, for the preparation of academic seminars and the development of research, as shown in Table 2.

As for the use of the internet, the 271 (100%) nursing students surveyed make use of communication technology, for many different purposes, however it can point out that their use for purposes of educational research was identified in 179 (66%) students. As the sample of the study consisted of students from all periods of graduation, it is possible to affirm that the use of the internet for research evolves as the student is passing of time on curriculum, with closest approach of research and the search for academic opportunities, which causes increased access to this tool.

It was found that 208 (77%) students follow links to sites. This is worrying, considering that is exposed surfing the net while being vulnerable to attacks from malicious files. This fact leads to the risk of compromising the data contained in their computer, as many of these shortcuts are sites with malicious files and that can cause damage to the operating system.

When asked if they used to search for information in electronic format, 265 (98%) survey participants stated that made use of research in electronic format. This data was confirmed, when asked if they used the resources of Google and academic Google to conduct research. In this scenario, 249 (92%) students confirm the use of this search tool. It was noted the commitment of the students in researching in electronic format, since this format is easy and fast. In addition, they use the resources of Google and academic Google, which are known for their vast informational collection worldwide.
However, regarding the use of research strategies in different programs, including the handling of Booleans, only 56 (21%) students reported their use. It turns out that the databases are little used, which reveals the difficulty students have in using this tool (and, or, not) to maximize the results of academic research18.

Other data that highlight refers to the fact that only 115 (42%) students say they include different types of search strategies. This data confirms that most nursing students do not search programes and databases for diversifying the search.

The most widely used service is the email, quoted by 246 (91%) students internet users, followed by search sites, 236 (87%); social networks are visited by 148 students (55%); and, finally, the news sites that were mentioned by 139 (51%) students, as shown in Table 3. These results show that nursing students seek various resources available on the internet to update and for academic growth.

Few changes have been observed in order to intensify the teaching of computer science in the training of nurses. However, it is of fundamental importance to integration of this field of study to the educational process, in order to encourage the construction of a new knowledge in assistance in education, management and research19.

The analysis of the empirical material demonstrates that the internet is already part of students' lives, influencing directly in their learning process. Thus the exhibition of technology and computer science students, within the academy, will be able to provide new skills that will be required to live in a computerized environment and explore, in their daily lives and in the world of work, the potential they offer.

The results of the study show that the nursing students of UFPB consider very important the use of the internet as a complementary tool in the teaching-learning process. The software most used by students indicates the commitment of academics with instruments which perform operational functions related to teaching and research.

In addition, it was noted that students make use of the internet as communication technology for a variety of purposes, underscoring once again, use for educational purposes (academic research), demonstrating the significance of this device and the commitment of the students in using the internet for cognitive growth.

It is noteworthy that the present study showed the limitation of having the sample from just an institution of learning, which made it impossible for to meet other realities. It is expected, therefore, that the results found in this research subsidize the realization of new investigations, with the purpose of exploring and understanding the effects that the new information and communication technologies can bring to instrumentalize the teaching-learning process. Thus, broadening the knowledge of the true role of the internet as an educational vehicle, with the purpose of improving the quality of education and training of future professionals.

It is concluded that the use of the internet and programs that improve the performance of nursing student support updating, communication and academic qualification, providing positive impact in scientific growth and consequent increased performance for the future job market. Therefore, it is for the universities increased awareness for opening cyber spaces, in order to provide improvements in teaching, training and learning.


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Direitos autorais 2014 Kamila Nethielly Souza Leite, Sergio Ribeiro dos Santos, Smalyanna Sgren da Costa Andrade, Ana Aline Lacet Zaccara, Tatiana Ferreira da Costa

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