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Nurse Educ Pract. 2001 Mar;1(1):27-34. doi: 10.1054/nepr.2001.0006.

A study of critical incident analysis as a route to the identification of change necessary in clinical practice: addressing the theory-practice gap.

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  • 1University of Teesside, School of Health, Middlesbrough, TSI 3BA, UK.


This paper examines the analysis of critical incidents to assess to what extentpost-registration students are able, through reflection, to identify areas of practice in need of improvement. Discussion centres on the students' ability to reflect on their writing and link such reflection to ways in which changes can be facilitated. Concerns around the theory-practice gap are central to the research, and the use of this teaching strategy is discussed in relation to issues that arise from identification of the practice gap. Cormack's (1983, 1996) technique of analysing critical incidents is used to classify the data, and the areas of discussion are grouped around three main headings relevant to the process of change. It is clear from the data that areas in need of change are identified, but it is more difficult to assess to what extent the process directly informs practice. The conclusion highlights the need for further research that examines whether or not change is apparent in the students' practice area.

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