Exploring nurses' learning


  • Lioba Howatson-Jones Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom




Compelling space, auto/biography, interpretive imagination, dehyphenation


The aim of this paper is to explore the concept of compelling space for learning. The research presented uses an auto/biographical methodology to explore nurses' learning. Theoretical perspective is drawn from biographical approaches and ideas around development of the self, to examine the nature of people's experience. The argument is advanced, through the narrations of three study participants from a PhD study, that there is a need for nurses to have space to tell their stories of learning and to reconnect with personal experience. The narrations focus upon learning by mistake, developing an interpretive imagination and using biography in teaching and learning and have something to contribute to the development of spaces of learning. This is developed further by considering how biographical method and reflexive responses offer opportunity to find the personal voice and make spaces more compelling and integrative as a different form of pedagogy for nurse education.


Metrics Loading ...


Bahn, D. (2007). Reasons for post registration learning: impact of the learning experience. Nurse Education Today 27(7), 715-722. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2006.10.005

Bishop,V. (2007). Clinical Supervision in Practice (2nd ed). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Bunkers, S.S. (2002). Lifelong learning: a human becoming perspective. Nursing Science Quarterly 15(4), 294-300.

Carper, B. (1978). Fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing. Advances in Nursing Science 1(1), 13-23.

Chan, E.A. (2005). The narrative research trail: values of ambiguity and relationships. Nurse Researcher 13(1), 43-56.

Cooley, M.C. (2008). Nurses’ motivations for studying third level post-registration nursing programmes and the effects of studying on their personal and work lives. Nurse Education Today 28, 588-594. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2007.11.002

Fagerberg, I. (2004). Registered nurses’ work experiences: personal accounts integrated with professional identity. Journal of Advanced Nursing 46(3), 284-291. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.02988.x

Gould, D., Drey, N, & Berridge, E.J. (2006). Nurses’ experiences of continuing professional development. Nurse Education Today 27(6), 602-609. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2006.08.021

Great Britain. Department of Health, (1999). Making a Difference: strengthening the nursing, midwifery and health visiting contribution to health and healthcare. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

Great Britain. Department of Health, (2000). Project 2000: Fitness for purpose a report to the Department of Health. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.

Holmes, J. (2005). Notes on mentalizing – old hat, or new wine? British Journal of Psychotherapy 22(2), 179-197. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0118.2005.tb00275.x

Horowitz, S.A. (2004). The discovery and loss of a "compelling space": a case study in adapting to a new organisational order. In C. Huffington, D. Armstrong, W. Halton, L. Hoyle, & J. Pooley (Eds.), Working below the surface: the emotional life of contemporary organisations (pp. 151-163). London: Karnac.

Howatson-Jones, I.L. (2010a). Exploring the learning of nurses. PhD unpublished thesis. Canterbury Christ Church University/University of Kent.

Howatson-Jones, L. (2010b). Reflective Practice in Nursing. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Hunt, C. (1998). Compartment, connections and consciousness: changing perspectives on a learning journey. Paper from the 28th Annual SCUTREA Conference Research, Teaching and Learning: making connections in the education of adults. Retrieved November 14, 2006, from


Hunt, C., & West, L. (2007). Salvaging the self in adult learning: auto/biographical perspectives from teaching and research. Paper: Conference of the ESREA Network on Life History and Biography. Roskilde University, Denmark.

Hunter, L.A. (2008). Stories as integrated patterns of knowing in nursing education. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship 5(1), Article 38 Retrieved October 23, 2008, from: http://www.bepress.com/ijnes/vol5/iss1/art38

Illeris, K. (2002). The Three Dimensions of Learning: contemporary learning theory in the tension field between cognitive, the emotional and the social. Roskilde: Roskilde University Press and NIACE.

Jarvis, P. (2007). Globalisation, lifelong learning and the learning society: sociological perspectives, lifelong learning and the learning society vol 2. Oxon: Routledge.

Maich, N.M., Brown, B. & Royle, J. (2000). ’Becoming’ through reflection and professional portfolios:

the voice of growth in nurses. Reflective Practice 1(6), Retrieved July 23, 2007, from http://ejournals.ebsco.com

McCarthy, A. & Evans, D. (2003). A study on the impact of continuing education for nurses and midwives who completed post-registration courses. The Nursing & Midwifery Planning and Development Unit Galway: Western Health Board. Retrieved August 1, 2008, from: http://hse.openrepository.com/hse/bitstream/10147/42774/1/2268.pdf

Merrill, B. & West, L. (2009). Using Biographical Methods in Social Research. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Nursing & Midwifery Council (2008). The Code: standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. London: Nursing and Midwifery Council.

O’Donohue, W. & Nelson, L (2007). Let’s be professional about this: ideology and the psychological contracts of registered nurses. Journal of Nursing Management 15(5), 547-555. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2007.00715.x

Parse, R. Rizzo. (1998). The human becoming school of thought (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Perry, B. (2005). Core nursing values brought to life through stories. Nursing Standard 20(7), 41-48.

Phelan, A., Barlow, C. & Iversen, S. (2006). Occasioning learning in the workplace: the case of interprofessional peer collaboration. Journal of Interprofessional Care 20(4) 415-424. doi: 10.1080/13561820600845387

Riesenberg Malcolm, R. (1992). As if: the phenomenon of not learning. In R. Anderson (Ed.), Clinical Lectures on Klein and Bion (pp. 114-125). Hove: Brunner-Routledge.

Stanley, L. (1993). Auto/biography in sociology Sociology 27(1), 41-42. doi: 10.1177/003803859302700105

Stanley, L & Wise, S. (1993). Breaking out again: feminist ontology and epistemology. London: Routledge.

Taylor, K. (2000). Teaching with developmental intention In J. Mezirow and Associates Learning as Transformation: critical perspectives on a theory in progress (pp. 151-167). San Francisco CA: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Company.

Watson, R. & Thompson, D.R. (2000). Editorial: Recent developments in UK nurse education: horses for courses or courses for horses? Journal of Advanced Nursing 32(5) 1041-1042. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2000.1147a.x

West, L. (2001). Doctors on the edge: General Practitioners health and learning in the inner city. London: Free Associates Books.

West, L. (2006). Really reflexive practice: auto/biographical research and struggles for a critical reflexivity. Paper presented at Professional Lifelong Learning: beyond reflective practice. Conference held at Leeds: Trinity and All Saints College Retrieved November 14, 2006, from: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/155705.pdf

West, L. Alheit, P. Anderson, A.S. & Merrill, B. (Eds.). (2007). Using Biographical and Life History Approaches in the Study of Adult and Lifelong Learning: European Perspectives. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

White, J. (1995). Patterns of knowing: review, critique, and update. Advances in Nursing Science 17(4), 73-86.

Winnicott, D. W. (1965). The maturational processes and the facilitating environment: studies in the theory of emotional development. London: Karnac and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.

Wright Mills, C. (2000). The Sociological Imagination. 40th anniversary edition with new afterword by Todd Gitlin. New York: Oxford University Press.




How to Cite

Howatson-Jones, L. (2011). Exploring nurses’ learning. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 3(1), 43–57. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela0040