The lived experience of final year student nurses of learning through reflective processes.
This source preferred by Karen Rees
Authors: Rees, K.L.
This scientific phenomenological study aims to explore and better understand the lived experience of learning through reflective processes, the nature, meaning and purpose of reflective learning, what is learned and the triggers and processes that enable meaningful reflective activity. Ten final year nursing students who felt that they had experienced learning through reflective processes were invited to describe their lived experiences of the phenomenon during taped phenomenological interviews. The rich and contextualised data was analysed using the four steps for descriptive phenomenological analysis proposed by Giorgi (1985). The findings essentially differentiate between authentic reflective learning which enables the emergence of 'own knowing', and the academically driven activities often perceived as 'doing reflection'. Authentic and significant personal 'own knowing' is derived from reflective activity prompted by unpredictable, arbitrary occurrences experienced in everyday encounters in the professional and personal worlds of the participants, which stimulate meaningful existential questions that, in turn, demand attention and drive the commitment to ongoing reflection. Engagement with authentic reflective activity is often triggered by an insistent and personal 'felt' sense of a need to understand and know 'something more for the self, and this activity demands far more privacy than the contemporary literature acknowledges. On the cusp of registered practice, the participants described how the maturation of reflective activity had enabled them to engage with the struggle to locate themselves personally and professionally in the context of care, to establish and refine personal and professional values and beliefs and to consider the realities of their nursing practice. Reflection enabled the participants to recognise and affirm that they had become nurses and could fulfil the role to their own and others expectations. Their reflective knowing and understanding was active and embodied in the way they lived their nursing practice. Analysis of the lived experience of learning through reflective processes has raised a number of issues for nurse education, in particular how student nurses may be supported in coming to know themselves and to become reflective, the importance of supportive mentorship and the significance of role modelling in professional development, the psychological safety of the 'practicum' and the need for privacy for authentic reflective learning.