Journal of Professional Nursing

Clinical Teaching And Learning: An Action Research Study

Bonnie Schroyen, RCpN, Dip. T.T., MA, MCNA(NZ) Senior Nursing Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Science, Northland Polytechnic, Whangarei
Mary Finlayson, PhD, RCpN, MCNA(NZ) Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Auckland, Auckland

Reference:  Schroyen, B., & Finlayson, M. (2004). Clinical teaching and learning: An action research study. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 20(2), 36-46.


There are many factors within the New Zealand health and education systems that affect the quality of teaching and learning in clinical settings for student nurses. Using an educational action research model a nursing lecturer based in a polytechnic and ten students formed a research group to address one issue that was important to them. The research group chose to plan, implement and evaluate a practical change strategy aimed at improving the teaching and learning relationship between students and staff nurses in clinical settings. A sample of five staff nurses working closely with five students in the group was invited to join the study in order to gain their perspectives on the issues. The findings were that contract learning provides a strategy which, under certain conditions, offers both students and staff nurses an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of their interactions.  

Contract learning, action research, clinical education   

Nursing education in New Zealand has undergone major changes in the last thirty years (Ministerial Taskforce on Nursing, 1998). The influence of these changes on the current shape of nursing practice has been extensively examined, documented and debated. It has been argued that, partly as a result of changes in government funding policies, problems exist within the education and health sectors that threaten the quality of teaching and learning in clinical settings for student nurses. The influence these problems have on preparing the graduate for nursing practice, as well as the accessibility of ongoing professional development opportunities, is a concern for the profession. In this study a group of participants examined their local situations and acted within current constraints to improve their own clinical learning experiences. The study was undertaken in a provincial New Zealand city with a group of third year student nurses during their final clinical experience.

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