What is it about?

The development of an academic writing style is seen to be an integral skill that the student must be willing to learn and undertake within higher education settings. Academic styles of writing have been imported into nursing education as a consequence of its integration into higher education. I wanted to investigate the experiences of learning an academic style of writing for students early on in their nursing career. There is little, if any, research that seeks to investigate or measure these experiences of nursing students. This study sought to investigate the academic writing experiences of a group of preregistration nursing students. To explore issues surrounding how academic writing skills were developed, integrated and received into the student's educational programme and how these skills impacted on various aspects of their educational and clinical experience. A phenomenological approach was adopted to investigate the academic writing experiences of a group of preregistration students.

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Why is it important?

There is an expectation that preregistration students will quickly acquire academic writing skills when most will have had little or no prior experience. There appeared to have been little emphasis placed on facilitating the development of these skills in the educational programme. The lack of emphasis and support proved to be problematical for these nursing students. The emergence of a theory‐practice divide also figured strongly. Students were, however, able to appreciate the need and place for academic writing skills and most were able to identify the structural processes that were integral to acquiring such skills.


A plethora of anecdotal evidence, supported by the findings in this study, suggests that most nursing students' struggle with the demands placed upon them when writing academic assignments. The need for greater emphasis and support throughout the whole period of training are highlighted in the findings of this study. It is known that nursing loses large numbers of its students to the academic rigors of its educational programmes. Where this is the case, the findings of this study support the need for nurse educationalists and curriculum planners to revise and reform the way that they approach and deliver the demands of an academic style of writing with their students.

Dr Dean Whitehead
Flinders University

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This page is a summary of: The academic writing experiences of a group of student nurses: a phenomenological study, Journal of Advanced Nursing, June 2002, Wiley, DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2002.02211.x.
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