An Ethnographic Case Study exploring the use of Reflective Learning by Trainee Nurse Mentors

Miklaucich, Maria (2010). An Ethnographic Case Study exploring the use of Reflective Learning by Trainee Nurse Mentors. EdD thesis The Open University.



This is an ethnographic case study undertaken to investigate learning through the use of reflection and reflective practice frameworks within a programme training nurses to be mentors. The conceptual underpinning for the research originates from the work of Schon (1987 & 1983) and Johns (1993-2006). The aim of the study was to discover the extent to which the nurses' learning was influenced by reflection and reflective practice. I wanted to know how the use of the concepts promoted learning for the trainee's enabling them to develop as mentors and fulfil their educational requirements for continual professional development. Lather's (1991 & 1986) ideas of research as praxis are utilised to enable me to solve problems, develop the trainee mentors and the mentor curricula as part of the research process.

I gain insight to the nurses' use and processes of reflection and reflective practice by interviewing each participant and obtaining their written reflective accounts of learning undertaken during the mentor programme. I also conducted participant observation in class and non participant observation in the practice environments which I later deconstructed. I analyse the textual accounts via the ethnographic approach of grounded theory as described by Strauss and Corbin (1998).

A total of fifteen qualified nurses participated in the study. I carried out the research during the period 2003-2006. The research setting was a University, one acute National Health Service Hospital Trust, and one independent Hospital.

I discovered that the use of reflection and reflective practice is a process represented by the participant trainee mentors as sequential layers of learning that developed as they journeyed through the mentor programme. The outcome of the research led to the development of a praxis theory of reflective learning. In relation to the work of Lather (1986) I also developed the research process as self advocacy.

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