Transformatory learning in nurse education
This study aimed to explore the effects of a transformatory learning programme in a group of Project 2000 nursing students. A secondary focus of the study was to monitor the effectiveness of reflexive action research as a tool for reducing the theory-practice gap that persists between nurse education and nursing practice. The learning programme was developed around the process of reflection and evaluated within a framework of a hierarchical model of nursing research and critical social theory. The first level of research used formal theory to generate an action strategy with a group of first year student nurses (n=42). The action strategy was evaluated after an initial period of six months and provided the data for the level two research. The level two research facilitated a macro view of the learning situation which was then examined in more detail for the level three research. Reflection on action was adopted as the method of generating informal theory with the aim of facilitating a micro view of the learning environment. Data was collected using a variety of strategies, both within methods and across methods triangulation assisted a holistic view of the phenomena under exploration. The process of transformatory leaning was found to be a notable factor in developing reflective and effective practice amongst student nurses. Additionally, reflexive action research proved an effective strategy for narrowing the theory-practice gap. The insights gained from the study have considerable significance for informing the future practice of teaching in nursing, not least the challenge that teachers, like nurses, have a professional obligation to develop and review their practical knowledge and explore the effectiveness of their practice. It is proposed that reflexive action research and reflective practice are an appropriate formula for addressing these issues.