Barker, Caroline (2013) A Phenomenological Study Exploring the Use of Directed Study Time in an Undergraduate Adult Nursing Curriculum. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The main aim of this study was to explore student nurses and lecturers’ perceptions of directed study time (DST) within an undergraduate nursing curriculum. Previous research pertaining to the phenomenon has predominantly focused on how students approached learning, and the pedagogical preferences of lecturers and students. A wealth of quantitative literature demonstrates attempts to measure students’ preparation for self directed learning (SDL). Whilst a substantial amount of research has identified that students are unprepared to study independently and direct their own learning; no research has explored the underlying reasons behind this, nor has any research explored the perceptions of DST within undergraduate nursing curricula. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to understand and interpret the participants’ perceptions of DST. The research was undertaken in two phases. In Phase One three focus group interviews were undertaken with student nurses on an undergraduate adult branch nursing course at an English university. In Phase Two, individual semi-structured interviews were carried out with nurse academics from the same university. Template Analysis was used to analyse the data and to determine key themes.

Significant findings revealed that both groups perceived DST to be owned by student nurses, who controlled DST. The identities of the groups was not reflective of their roles and resulted in a lack of belonging to the university; this led to limited levels of engagement by both parties with academic activities. Many student nurses did not engage with SDL during DST and the majority of lecturers did not value academia. The culture was influenced by the ‘hidden curriculum’ within which nurse lecturers lacked authority and relied on traditional pedagogical methods to regain a sense of control. The participants also described how some students’ mentors did not value academia and did not always recognise the importance of linking theory to practice. The implications of this research study emphasise the need for a multi-faceted approach to promote the value and importance of academia within the nursing profession.

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