• aesthetic knowledge;
  • caring;
  • critical thinking;
  • explicitation interview;
  • grounded theory;
  • nursing students

lechasseur k., lazure g. & guilbert l. (2011) Knowledge mobilized by a critical thinking process deployed by nursing students in practical care situations: a qualitative study. Journal of Advanced Nursing 67(9), 1930–1940.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a qualitative study of mobilization of knowledge within the critical thinking process deployed by female undergraduate nursing students in practical care situations.

Background.  Holistic practice is based on variety of knowledge mobilized by a critical thinking process. Novices and, more specifically, students experience many difficulties in this regard. Therefore, a better understanding of the knowledge they mobilize in their practice is important for nurse educators.

Design.  A qualitative study, guided by grounded theory, was carried out. Sixteen nursing students, registered in an undergraduate programme in an Eastern Canadian university, were recruited. Descriptions of practical care situations were obtained through explicitation interviews in 2007. A sociodemographic questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and field notes were also used. Data were analysed using an approach based on grounded theory. An additional stage of analysis involved data condensation.

Findings.  Various types of knowledge guide nursing students’ practice. These include intrapersonal, interpersonal, perceptual, moral/ethical, experiential, practical, scientific and contextual knowledge. The mobilization of these types of knowledge is only possible when the process of critical thinking has attained a higher level, giving rise to a new knowledge that we have termed combinational constructive knowledge rather than aesthetic knowledge.

Conclusion.  Clarification of the types of knowledge guiding the practice of student nurses and of the role of critical thinking in their mobilization could lead to innovative educational strategies. The findings provide guidance for the revision and development of both academic and clinical training programmes.