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Keywords:

  • values;
  • theory;
  • practice;
  • roles;
  • contexts;
  • reflection;
  • critical analysis

This paper describes an inquiry to increase understanding of the role of personal tutor in a college of nursing and midwifery. Concepts of tutor and role are discussed in relation to their historical influences and an over view is provided of the research process which included document analysis and reflective audio-taped interviews with student nurses, teachers and education managers. Five conceptual categories are identified and critically analysed in relation to personal, institutional and social contexts and the factors which influence them. The first two categories identified reflect the concepts discussed in the literature. The third category reflects the uncertainties and confusion which surround differing perceptions of the role. The fourth category suggests the misunderstandings which may occur through taking for granted apparently shared concepts. The fifth category suggests the significance of personal theory in practice and the extent to which roles are taken or made. Traditional values concerning theory and practice are thus challenged. The reflective evidence provided by the participants suggests a theory, generated by them through the meanings they give to their views and actions, concerning their roles and the situation in which they find themselves at a particular point in time.