Where Does Good Research Start? Theory as the Foundation for Knowledge Development
Patterson, Barbara J.
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The use of theory in research is a challenge for both novice and seasoned researchers. Nevertheless, the advancement of the science of nursing education is contingent upon theory as the foundation for research. Many nursing education studies lack an implicit or explicit theoretical basis, even though multiple models/theories of learning are available for application in research focused on nursing education problems. The significance of the theory-research linkage cannot be over emphasized since it provides the basis to inform and connect all steps of the research process. A theoretical framework can shape researchers� thinking as to the types of questions they ask. Additionally, theories provide order to study designs and can support researchers as they move beyond superficial description to prediction. A clear explication of how a theory guides a research study can ensure coherence and rigor in the process. When a theoretical lens is used, inter-relationships among variables and constructs are heightened and often provide a trajectory for future research. Theories can also assist educators to make decisions to support best practices in teaching that may ultimately have an impact on learning outcomes. The purpose of this pre-conference workshop is to focus on the role of theory in nursing education research and knowledge development. As more faculty conduct research in educational settings and in their own teaching practices, using theory to generate questions and to guide research is crucial. Attendees interested in understanding the role of theory in research will develop new skills and insights into theory application for both qualitative and quantitative research projects and identify the critical role theory plays in the research process. Throughout the interactive workshop, examples of educational theories will be integrated into the discussion. Inductive and deductive processes will be explored. Theory is the means to advance the science of nursing education. A theoretically connected evidence-based teaching practice is dependent upon it.