Nursing students' perceptions of their education.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis provides an interpretation of nursing students' perceptions of their education, exploring these from the perspective of four themes curriculum, socialisation, professionalism and power. Two methods of data collection were used: the in-depth interview, the principle research method, which produced critically reflective dialogue, and structured questionnaires which provided a chance to generalise the data to the wider nursing student population. This study differs from previous studies of professional socialisation by addressing the subjective experiences of nursing students as they complete their education. It emphasises the influence both formal and informal education has on the students' perceptions of nursing. It is contended that explicit acknowledgement of this influence is critical in order to understand the development of these perceptions. The results of the study revealed constraints experienced by the students within their nursing education. It demonstrated that the environments in which this education takes place influence nursing students' interpretations of their social worlds. Contradictions reported between the idealised, client centred objectives of the nursing courses and the actual practices of nurses within bureaucratic institutions, exemplify a socialisation process which promotes acceptance of institutional constraints on professional practice. The evidence suggested that the dominant ideologies, or hidden curriculum, of both the polytechnic and the hospital systems socialise the nursing student into existing hierarchical structures. It is argued that both nursing educators and students need to openly acknowledge the relationship between the overt and covert aspects of the curriculum, if nursing education is to encourage graduates to be critically reflective of their professional practice. Lack of acknowledgement of the hidden curriculum exacerbates the difficulties students encounter when attempting to challenge existing institutional practices. Discussion is made of the study's implications for programme and curriculum development and suggestions for further research are identified.