Learning from experience in the community : an ethnographic study of district nurse students.
The starting point for this research was a set of issues
originating from my experiences in nurse education and
particularly in teaching courses in district nursing. These
educational issues concerned the learning of student
district nurses in the community - a learning environment as
yet little researched.
This study seeks to gain an understanding of the learning
experiences of district nurse students and to examine
learning in the practice setting from the perspective of the
students. Since the research depends upon the changing and
differing interpretations of the individuals involved in
the natural setting of the community an ethnographic
approach has been adopted.
The experiences of students are monitored throughout the
taught practice element of the district nurse course in both
inner city and rural/urban locations. Data, collected
through interview and observation, is analysed in the
context of theory relating to adult learning and learning
Three major categories of response are identified and
discussed in detail. These categories are sequential and
represent the learning process experienced
in the practice setting~ as they learn to
by the students
fit 1n to a newenvironment, test out their own ideas and compare the
unreality of college with the reality of practice.
Attention is drawn to the difficulties experienced by
district nurse students in fitting into new settings and
trying out change, to the detrimental effect on learning of
and to the powerlessness of
to influence the learning
environment. These issues are discussed in the context of
changes already taking place in nurse education as a result
of Project 2000.
Suggestions for further research include the development of
a package to evaluate the effectiveness of community
practice settings as learning environments, and the
promotion of teaching strategies based on experience and