(Photos courtesy of Ruth Eser-Jose, RN)
The Research Scholars Program’s research council and faculty spearheaded the Great American Cookie Experiment project in October as a method to provide research education and engage staff nurses in a fun, non-intimidating, hands-on research project. The experiment was first used by Clinton Thiel, RN, in 1987 to desensitize undergraduate nursing students to research phobia. As a research educator, he devised the teaching strategy to decrease nursing students’ fear by using the non-threatening research question, "Which cookie tastes better?"
More than 500 participants, including 300 staff nurses, were recruited to take part. Data was collected at the TCH Main Campus and at TCH West Campus by two-person teams, members of the RSP who were blinded to the composition of the cookies. Participants were asked to taste-test two physically identical, but nutritionally different, chocolate chip cookies and complete an evaluation form that rated the moistness, flavor and overall preference between the two cookie types. As expected, staff members were eager to taste test cookies and enthusiastic about finding out the results, which pointed to a preference for regular chocolate chip cookies.
The experiment provided a valuable opportunity for staff nurses to learn about research. "It was interesting to see research applied to such a fun project," staff nurse Jenell Dancy, RN, MSN, said.
By promoting an environment that facilitates inquiry and critical thinking, RSP members said they hope staff nurses will be more open to engaging in research that ultimately allows them to improve their patients’ lives.
Ruth Eser-Jose, RN, MSN, CPN, is a staff nurse at Texas Children’s Hospital and a member of the research council. Post a comment below or email editorSouth@nurse.com.