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Reflection through web discussions: assessing nursing students' work‐based learning

Kirsti Hulkari (University of Tampere, Hameenlinna, Finland)
Seija Mahlamäki‐Kultanen (University of Tampere, Hameenlinna, Finland)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 4 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to investigate evidence for the use of web discussion in the assessment of work‐based learning in practical nurse education. The paper seeks to investigate what kind of conclusions can be drawn from the students’ learning and learning processes, especially from their ability to reflect by analysing web discussions.


The data were gathered in an action research project in a vocational secondary level institution. The data consists of 26 web discussions among student groups and their teachers' qualitative, evaluative reports, 26 altogether. The data were coded inductively with the NVivo 1.3 qualitative data analysis software. The analysis followed the principles of hierarchical coding. The purpose was to study how the processes of vocational growth, learning and reflection can be detected in the web discussion.


The paper finds that web discussion provides valuable information about the learning processes of students. It is a valid measure for the ability to reflective thinking and a useful method to develop reflection skills. Web discussion is feasible, but not an adequate assessment form of work‐based learning all alone. It serves best the assessment needs of the final phases of studying.

Research limitations/implications

The research was conducted in practical nurse education where communication and reflection are critical. More detailed research is needed from other vocational sectors.

Practical implications

The research findings suggest the use of web discussion as one valuable solution for the assessment of students’ competence gained through work‐based learning.


The paper is based on original data.



Hulkari, K. and Mahlamäki‐Kultanen, S. (2008), "Reflection through web discussions: assessing nursing students' work‐based learning", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 157-164.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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