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ANS Adv Nurs Sci. 2001 Mar;23(3):1-10.

Disavowal of the behaviorist paradigm in nursing education: what makes it so difficult to unseat?

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Centre for Nursing and Health Studies, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta.


The literature is replete with calls for disavowal of the behaviorist paradigm in nursing education, a paradigm charged with producing successive generations of passive learners who are incapable of instigating much needed and long overdue reforms within the health care system. Only rarely has this call been challenged by nurse educators. In this article, the role of a paradigm in delineating the nature of and solutions to significant problems within a scientific community is explored. I posit that the current eschewal of behaviorism by nurse educators stems not from its failure to solve significant problems in nursing education but rather from an apparent shift in value orientation--a shift from effecting learning (and health) outcomes to effecting social change. Despite this seeming shift in values, effecting learning outcomes is still held to be an essential aspect of nursing education, and it is because of this, I argue, that the behaviorist paradigm is so difficult to unseat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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