Title of ArticleNursing students’ longitudinal learning outcomes after participation in a research project in a hospital
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sKari Anne Einarsen and Tove Giske
ReferenceVolume 9, Issue 1, Article 4
Date of PublicationMay 2019
KeywordsActive learning, clinical practice nursing research, practice development, pre-registration nursing education, nursing students, research


Background: Policy documents challenge educational institutions to involve students in research so they learn more about practice development attitudes and skills. There is limited research on longitudinal learning outcomes of undergraduate nursing students who take part in research.

Aim: To gain insight into the long-term outcomes for third-year student nurses after active participation in research during their second year, and what influenced such learning.

Settings: All 52 nursing students who had taken part in a research study in a hospital setting were invited to share their thoughts and comments about their learning outcomes after a year.

Methods: A total of 30 pages of comments from 36 students were analysed using qualitative content analysis.

Findings: The theme of this study was ‘Reflection as a guide to quality in nursing’. Four categories described students’ learning outcomes: increased awareness and attentiveness in practice; being constructively critical to their own and others’ clinical practice; increased contextual awareness; and becoming a novice researcher.

Conclusions: Supervised active participation in a research project increased student awareness and attentiveness to the subject of study. They found themselves being more constructively critical of their own and other nurses’ practice related to the subject matter, as well as more aware of contextual influences. Participation supported and enthused them to become more familiar with research.

Implications for practice:

  • A successful research study in clinical practice, involving nursing students, requires faculty and nurse leaders to plan the study carefully and inform all relevant parties
  • Offering undergraduate nursing students opportunities to gain an in-depth understanding of the phenomena they are studying helps to engage them in clinical research
  • Allowing students to be part of the full circle of research – planning, data collection, analysing findings and writing up a report – provides them with tools for continued reflection in and on practice and therefore to engage in practice development
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