A content analysis of The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing from 1984 to 1994

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Roger Heimstra


nursing education

Subject Categories



Over the last two decades, providers of continuing education for professionals have debated how best to serve their constituents. At the same time, all knowledge forms have expanded and with it the need for more effective continuing education. This study assessed The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing as a vehicle for providing both theoretical and practical knowledge to nurse educators. Articles appearing over 11 years were examined to determine the type of knowledge presented, the author's place of employment, and whether the journal's stated objectives had been fulfilled.

Several learning models have appeared in the literature over the years that link the process of knowing-how, or practical knowledge, and knowing-that, or theoretical knowledge. Both forms are necessary in nursing. In 1984, Benner published From novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice which describes the clinical phases through which nurses progress to achieve an expert level. Combining practical-type knowledge, using Benner's framework, and theoretical knowledge, a conceptual framework was developed to determine what types of articles were being published.

The primary question asked, does The Journal provide the knowledge necessary for nurse educators to facilitate nurses' progression from novice to expert? The research indicated that such knowledge was provided through the journal's feature articles. This allows nurse educators to plan continuing education to meet the needs of nurses at the various levels of novice to expert.

The study methodology was a 12-step content analysis. The process included such activities as identifying associated coding schemes and criteria, collecting and analyzing the messages, and interpretation to obtain distinct themes.

A new model for developing continuing education to assist nurse educators plan programs tailored to the needs of nurses at various career levels is presented. It also provides a framework for analyzing nursing journals utilizing both theoretical and practical knowledge-types.

This study provides new knowledge regarding the delivery of continuing education programs to nurses. It also was the first attempt to analyze a nursing journal using Benner's descriptions of nursing clinical levels.


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