Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Measuring learning outcomes in healthcare students

Annamaria Bagnasco, MSc PhD, Researcher in Nursing & Education Coordinator1
Lucia Cadorin, MSc PhD, Student in Methodology of Nursing Research2
Angela Tolotti, MSc PhD, Student in Methodology of Nursing Research2
Nicola Pagnucci, MSc PhD, Student in Methodology of Nursing Research2
Gennaro Rocco, MSc, President3
Loredana Sasso, MSc, Associate Professor of Nursing2

1Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Genoa, Italy
2Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, Italy
3IPASVI Centre of Excellence, Rome, Italy

A group of Italian researchers has recently published in JAN a paper titled: ‘Instruments measuring meaningful learning in undergraduate healthcare students: a systematic review protocol’. The aim of this systematic review protocol by Bagnasco et al. (2014) was to establish the psychometric properties of instruments to measure learning outcomes in healthcare students.

Learning outcomes in healthcare students is an important issue that has been debated on an international level due to the difficulty of measuring learning, specifically meaningful learning.

Meaningful learning is an active process that promotes a wider and deeper understanding of concepts. It is the result of an interaction between new and previous knowledge, it produces a long-term change, and it is exclusively built by the learner.

This systematic review offers a synthesis of the data related to instruments that measure learning outcomes and will help to decide which tools to use, as well as design a model to assess meaningful learning in its three dimensions:

a.) ‘cognitive and metacognitive processes’,
b.) ‘behavioural and emotional aspects of learning’ and
c.) ‘attitude towards learning’.

The successful implementation of meaningful learning in nursing students also requires educators to have specific skills and competences. Measuring learning outcomes is very important because it makes students feel responsible for their own learning and helps them understand the process of interaction between the new information they gain and what they already know, making an innovative contribution to this field.


Bagnasco A, Cadorin L, Tolotti A, Pagnucci N, Rocco G, Sasso L (2014) Instruments measuring meaningful learning in undergraduate healthcare students: a systematic review protocolJournal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12520

Friday, 22 August 2014

e-learning or the old way?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

I am a great advocate of online learning having been converted several years ago when I undertook a course in how to teach online which I  The programme was called Learning to Teach Online (LeTTOL in short) run by Sheffield College and I simply cannot praise it highly enough.  I was able, immediately, to set up an online module at The University of Sheffield as part of an online Masters in Nursing (we never saw the students face-to-face) in writing for publication and Wiley colleagues participated as guest tutors.  The module was popular and demanding but several publication by participants were the result.

Therefore, I came to this article by McCutcheon et al. (2014) already biased in favour of the medium; the article is titled: A systematic review evaluating the impact of online or blended learning vs. face-to-face learning of clinical skills in undergraduate nurse education and is published in JAN.  The article is paper-based, being a review of evidence, and the conclusion is that online learning is just as effective as face-to-face learning.  The outcome was no surprise to me but I was very glad to see it.  The authors advocate further research in the area, especially to see how effective blended learning (a combination of online and face-to-face) is in teaching clinical skills to undergraduate students.


  1. McCutcheon K,
  2. Lohan M,
  3. Traynor M,
  4. Martin D (2014) 
  5. A systematic review evaluating the impact of online or blended learning vs. face-to-face learning of clinical skills in undergraduate nurse education Journal of Advanced Nursing 
    DOI: 10.1111/jan.12509

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Career choice by nursing undergraduates

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

I was speaking to a medical doctor recently whose daughter was a nursing student and when I asked which area of nursing she might enter he said that she most liked that last clinical area in which she had worked - whatever that happened to be.  I well recall that phenomenon from my own time as a student nurse.

A recent Norwegian study by Abrahamsen (2104) titled: 'Nurses’ choice of clinical field in early career' and published in JAN investigates what influences undergraduate nursing students' choices.

Two-hundred and ninety students were involved in a longitudinal study which started in 2001.  They were asked throughout about which clinical fields they wanted to enter and also about theoretical professional knowledge and practical skills acquired, and job values.  The outcomes focused on care of older people and psychiatry.  Gender played no part in the decision, but age did, with an increasing tendency to express an interest in working with older people, rather than hospital care, as nurses got older.  The higher the score on acquired practical knowledge and the lower the score on theoretical knowledge, the more likely students were to express an interest in psychiatry and as altruism increased, so did the tendency to express an interest in working with older people.

The study has practical implications; in the words of the author: 'The findings indicate that less popular nursing fields like care of older people and psychiatry need to develop recruitment strategies as to entice qualified nurses to choose these fields.' and 'Further research should pay greater attention to motives behind nurses’ choice of career path...A focus on motivation is essential to develop strategies both about recruitment and to ensure that nurses remain working in those fields.'


Abrahamsen B (2014) Nurses’ choice of clinical field in early career Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12512

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Bullying is not nice

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Bullying is a problem in nursing as several papers over the years in JAN have shown (Randle 2003, Laschinger et al. 2010). A new paper titled: 'The effect of bullying on burnout in nurses: the moderating role of psychological detachment' and published in JAN by Allen and Holland (2014) examines: 'the relationship between bullying and burnout and the potential buffering effect psychological detachment might have on this relationship'.

Bullying is known to have negative consequences and one of these is burnout which leads to low sense of personal accomplishment, depersonalisation and exhaustion. The idea being tested in the present study was the theory that detachment from work - leisure time, 'recharging batteries' and just getting away from it - would have a positive effect in mediating the effect of bullying. In this sense the study is unique.

The outcome of the study was that, while psychological detachment may alleviate some of the effects of burnout, it did not alleviate the effect of bullying on burnout. Therefore, while 'switching off' from work is useful and should be encouraged, the effect of bullying is pervasive; in the words of the authors: 'Ensuring there are workplace policies and practices in place in healthcare organizations to reduce the instances of bullying and pro-actively address it when it does occur would therefore seem crucial'.


Allen BC, Holland P (2014) The effect of bullying on burnout in nurses: the moderating role of psychological detachment Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12489

Randle J (2003) Bullying in the nursing profession Journal of Advanced Nursing 4, 395-401

Laschinger HKS, Grau AL, Finegan J, Wilk P (2010) New graduate nurses’ experiences of bullying and burnout in hospital settings Journal of Advanced Nursing 12, 2732-2742