“Hearing students into speech”: A critical exploration of nursing students’ experiences of adversity


  • Julie Hanson University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Margaret McAllister Central Queensland University




curriculum, education, nursing, health services research, learning, narratives, research design, social theory, socialisation, students, workplace


 Introduction: Across the world, a paradigm shift in educational research and reform is calling for the inclusion of the student voice to enhance the utility and relevance of curriculum within higher education, yet within nursing education this practice is not systemic. This project collected self-reported adverse workplace events from seven nursing students across a 3-year undergraduate programme, explored the students’ perspectives on the lessons they learned and invited them to co-create curricula activities to prepare future nurses for workplace adversity. 

Methods: Critical social theory was the theoretical foundation of the study. Data were collected through a process of individual, guided interviews, using a critical incident questioning framework. Critical discourse analysis was used for analysis. 

Results: The two critical research processes—self-reflection and narrative reconstruction—used in the interviews elicited four key discourses in the data: conscientisation, liberation, agency and empowerment. 

Conclusions: Participants’ exposure to critical research methods raised their awareness of the complexities of professional socialisation in hostile workplace cultures. It appears that critically-reflective processes may increase nursing students’ capacity to notice, critique and respond constructively to adversity. A major insight from the data is that a poorly constructed curriculum exacerbated students’ experiences of adversity. The new insights into how critical research design gave voice to students in the co-construction of curricula activities may help undergraduate educators to implement critically-based strategies in “preparation for practice” learning modules.


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How to Cite

Hanson, J., & McAllister, M. (2017). “Hearing students into speech”: A critical exploration of nursing students’ experiences of adversity. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 18(1), 42–55. https://doi.org/10.11157/fohpe.v18i1.206