Learning from experience in the community: an ethnographic study of district nurse students


  • Ann E Mackenzie PhD MA RNT DN RGN

    1. Lecturer in Nursing, Department of Nursing Studies, King's College London, Cornwall House Annex, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TX, England
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This study seeks to gain an understanding of the learning experiences of district nurse students in the learning environment of the community, and to examine learning in the practice setting from the perspective of the student Since the research depends upon the changing and differing interpretations of the individuals involved in the natural setting of the community, an ethnographic approach has been adopted The experiences of students are monitored throughout the taught practice element of the district nurse course in both inner city and rural/urban locations Data, collected through interview and observations, are analysed in the context of theory relating to adult learning and learning from experience Three major categories are identified Examples from these categories are identified and discussed The categories are sequential and represent the learning process experienced by the students in the practice setting as they learn to fit into a new environment, test out their own ideas and compare the unreality of college with the reality of practice Attention is drawn to the difficulties for students of fitting into new settings and trying out change, to the detrimental effect on learning of rigid practice routines and to the powerlessness of community practice teachers to exert a major influence on the learning environment These issues are discussed in the context of changes in nurse education and evaluation of the community learning environment