Developing nurse teachers for diploma level
A strategic approach, utilising two sequential action research cycles over a two year period, was adopted to prepare teachers in one college for nursing and midwifery for diploma level courses. Ini tially, a link wi th higher education was developed, a policy for staff development implemented, and diploma level courses were planned. A survey of 63 teaching staff revealed their misconceptions about diploma level courses. During the second cycle, conjoint validation and subsequent implementation of diploma level courses were achieved. A staff development progammme was planned and implemented to prepare teachers for new roles and responsibili ties wi th diploma level courses. Five exploratory visits to other colleges of nursing were undertaken to valida te the approach adopted to staff development. Four were in England and one in Norway. Critical incident techniques and semistructured interviews of 7 education managers and a sample of 12 teachers were conducted to evalua te the programme's effectiveness. Teachers had an enhanced awareness of academic level in courses and were more confident to teach at diploma level. They were still inexperienced and uncertain about diploma level assessment and the integration of diploma level intellectual skills into practice settings. Theory has emerged from the research concerning the ongoing development of intellectual skills of nurses and midwives wi thin an academic framework incorpora ting a taxonomy of cognitive skills, self-directed learning and reflective practice. The central component of all these aspects is tha t of cri tical thinking which respondents identified as the characteristic which differentiated diploma level courses from previous training approaches. The eclectic staff development approach within a policy framework including individual performance review, achieved both individual and organisational development and contributed to the creation of corporate identity and cri tical awareness amongst staff. The programme also familiarised teachers with higher education approaches to course delivery prior to the impending merger of nurse education with higher education.