Using a community of inquiry framework to teach a nursing and midwifery research subject: An evaluative study

Jane Mills, Karen Yates, Helena Harrison, Cindy Woods, Jennifer Chamberlain-Salaun, Scott Trueman, Marnie Hitchins

Research output: Contribution to journalShort Survey/Scientific Reportpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Postgraduate nursing students' negative perceptions about a core research subject at an Australian university led to a revision and restructure of the subject using a Communities of Inquiry framework. Negative views are often expressed by nursing and midwifery students about the research process. The success of evidence-based practice is dependent on changing these views. A Community of Inquiry is an online teaching, learning, thinking, and sharing space created through the combination of three domains-teacher presence (related largely to pedagogy), social presence, and cognitive presence (critical thinking). Objectives: Evaluate student satisfaction with a postgraduate core nursing and midwifery subject in research design, theory, and methodology, which was delivered using a Communities of Inquiry framework. Setting, Participants, and Methods: This evaluative study incorporated a validated Communities of Inquiry survey (n = 29) and interviews (n = 10) and was conducted at an Australian university. Study participants were a convenience sample drawn from 56 postgraduate students enrolled in a core research subject. Survey data were analysed descriptively and interviews were coded thematically. Results: Five main themes were identified: subject design and delivery; cultivating community through social interaction; application-knowledge, practice, research; student recommendations; and technology and technicalities. Student satisfaction was generally high, particularly in the areas of cognitive presence (critical thinking) and teacher presence (largely pedagogy related). Students' views about the creation of a "social presence" were varied but overall, the framework was effective in stimulating both inquiry and a sense of community. Conclusions: The process of research is, in itself, the creation of a "community of inquiry." This framework showed strong potential for use in the teaching of nurse research subjects; satisfaction was high as students reported learning, not simply the theory and the methods of research, but also how to engage in "doing" research by forging professional and intellectual communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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