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Keywords:

  • action science;
  • critical philosophy;
  • emancipation;
  • nursing practice;
  • reflective practice

Critical reflective inquiry for knowledge development in nursing practice

This paper presents a method of inquiry which uses nurses' situated, individual instances of nursing practice as the basis for developing knowledge for nursing and improving practice. This method of inquiry is founded upon the ideas in action science and reflective practice, and critical philosophy. Nursing practice is viewed as a rich source of new knowledge as practitioners are engaged in creating as well as modifying knowledge to respond to specific clinical situations. At the same time, practitioners may be in practice without recognizing deficiencies or ineffectiveness. As a method to tap these two aspects of practice, the inquiry is designed to encompass three phases, i.e. descriptive, reflective and critical/emancipatory, and is oriented to provide understanding to practitioners of the nature and meaning of their own practice, to correct and improve practice through self-reflection and critique, and to generate models of `good' practice and theories of application as well as to discover processes of practice as played out in clinical situations. This method of inquiry can be used by nurses and nursing students in collaboration with researches or mentors to develop nursing knowledge about practice, improve individual practice, and engage in shared learning.