Self-directed learning among Thai nurses in clinical practice

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Nokdee, Somjai (2007) Self-directed learning among Thai nurses in clinical practice. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The aim of this research was to explain the process of nurses’ self-directed learning in clinical practice according to their self-perceptions. The researcher applied a phenomenological research approach as it enabled the researcher to discover and understand the direct daily experiences of nurses as they relate to self-directed learning in clinical practice. The research took place in a provincial Thai general hospital with over 500 beds. The participants were seven nurses from seven wards and four nurse educators from four departments of this hospital. Each participant had at least one year of work experience in a general hospital with 500 patient-beds in Thailand. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, participant observation and field notes over seven months from July 2003 to January 2004. Inductive analysis was used to interpret participants’ perceptions, experiences and behaviors. Data are presented to illustrate and substantiate interpretations of the selfdirected learning process of nurses in clinical practices. The findings show that nurses defined self-directed learners by four characteristics: 1) independent in learning, 2) effective in learning, 3) accepting of responsibility for learning, and 4) able to use problem solving skills. It was also found that nurses learned about patients, nursing practice and nursing communications through self-direction by selecting their own methods of learning, as well as choosing the sources of their learning. Nurse educators have a role in encouraging and supporting nurses to learn through self-direction by providing and suggesting how to use learning resources, building a conducive atmosphere and environment for learning, and evaluating the effectiveness of nurses’ self-directed learning. The findings from this study indicate that the opportunity to learn through self-direction already exists in the clinical setting. The nurses in this study primarily utilized learning sources within the hospital setting when engaged in self-directed learning, in particular human resources. Both structured and unstructured activities contributed to learning opportunities for nurses in clinical practice. Critical to their learning was the capability of identifying the learning opportunities that arise in their work. These results can be applied in nursing development plans in order to increase the self-directed learning potential of professional nurses. This effort may then enhance lifelong learning among nursing personnel of hospitals. Nurses can use their knowledge and skills from self-development to provide higher quality nursing care to patients. Eventually, their self-development will lead to their career development and finally to the development of the organization.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 320000 Medical and Health Sciences
Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Education
Keywords Thailand, nursing, clinical practice, self-directed learning
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