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10/22/2003 Nursing dean to discuss research on ESL testing

McMINNVILLE ? Testing disparities between native English speakers and English-as-a-Second-Language speakers in the nursing profession will be the topic of a Linfield College faculty lecture.

Brenda Smith, dean of nursing at the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing in Portland, will speak on "Amazing Discovery: Studying Really Works" on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall on the McMinnville campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Smith will present information she gathered from a year-long study in 2000, which looked at nursing test results of ESL students. In the United States, registered nurses are required to pass a nationally standardized licensure exam, the NCLEX-RN, following graduation from a formal nursing program. For nursing school graduates who are ESL speakers, the likelihood of passing the RN licensure exam is lower than their native English-speaking peers.

Smith became interested in the subject 15 years ago when a student who had emigrated from the Philippines asked her if any Hawaii Pacific University ESL student had ever passed the nursing licensure exam on the first attempt. Smith said the student eventually turned out to be the first to pass the test on her initial try, and Smith was intrigued.

"With today's growing minority and immigrant population, it is essential that the disparity between the number of minority nurses and minority clients be eliminated," Smith noted. "Identifying the factors involved in increasing NCLEX-RN success rates for ESL and minority speakers is one small step."

During her study, Smith explored areas such as culture, family, language acquisition, study habits, test-taking skills, computer familiarity and nursing school experiences. Smith found three characteristics that determined success for ESL students as they prepared for the nursing exam including preparation, family support and the student's motivation to succeed.

Smith holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, a master's degree and graduate certification from George Mason University, and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by a member of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.