As a matter of fact, the title of the study, according to Jeanfreau, should generally consist of a heading that provides insight into the reported research study by including reference to the research problem or concept studied the population, and the research design. Given such a view, the title of the present study correctly fits in as it contains the main keywords and refers to the learning experiences and the population consists of nursing students with dyslexia. This title consists of fifteen words, which is also a good point as it meets the requirements of research methods as suggested by Holloway (2010) and Polit and Beck (2010)
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In qualitative research, the researchers are considered as data collecting instruments – as well as the creators of the analytic process (Onwuegbuzie, 2010). Therefore their qualifications, experience, and reflexivity are relevant in establishing confidence in the data. (Polit and Beck, 2011) The study under consideration was undertaken by two researchers, Jenny Child and Elizabeth Langford. Child is a senior lecturer in adult nursing, while Langford is also a senior lecturer and study skills adviser at the University of the West of England, in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences in Bristol. The two authors are staff who teach nurse students, and have experience with nurse’s education. They are therefore competent and have the right qualifications to deal with the type of topics developed. One can also look at the notion of cultural competency of these authors. Lapan et al (2011) advocated such a view, and argued that “cultural competency is a crucial disposition that is related to the researcher’s or evaluator’s ability to accurately represent reality in culturally complex communities” (Mertens, 2009:89). Being lecturers in a British university, the authors of the article certainly meet this requirement, especially Langford who is a study skills adviser.
An abstract of an article can be defined as “a summary of what you are going to do, why and what its value is” (Hickson (2008:61). Several criteria can be considered to assess the quality of an abstract: length and content. With 183 words, the length of this abstract meets the requirements of an abstract as stated by Polit and Beck (2008) who advocate a length of between 100 to 200 words. As for the contents, it actually summarizes this article. It opens with the aim where the authors state why they undertake the study. Then it elucidates the research methodology with a clear statement about the phenomenological life world approach used. This is followed by the results of the research, where three main themes emerged, and ends it with a conclusion that supports the abstract’s data.
As for the literature review, it actually is a summary of existing literature, which develops an argument that supports the needs of the present study (Polit and Beck, 2008). In this research, not less than eleven recent documents have been assessed, and this search concentrated on computer based literature that was published between 2008 and 2011. The interesting point in this review is that it goes beyond a simple description of the sources to become “a critical summary and assessment of the range of existing materials dealing with the knowledge and understanding” of dyslexia (Blaxter, 2006). This literature review is up-to-date and comprehensive, because it searches, surveys and reviews what exists to place the research in the context of what was already done, and especially it points out the paucity of research in the domain of dyslexia for nursing students. However, one weakness of the article in general is that it contains many references dated prior to 2006. However this can be understood as most of those papers are secondary sources which were very helpful in the research.
From the above literature review, the rationale for the study is obvious. First there is a requirement by the Equality Act 2010, for reasonable adjustments of student health professionals in the educational institutions and workplace. Second the NMC (2006) requires that any nurse should have good skills in literacy and numeracy. Third the authors mention that there is a paucity of research in this problem. This is justified. While providing the reasons why the research is being conducted, the rationale of a research is normally developed alongside a review of some central ideas in the relevant literature (Van der Riet. et al. 2006).
Looking at the aims, it can be argued that there is a clear statement of the aims of the research, which mentions the research goal, its relevance and why the research is important. The authors explored the experience of such students in order to make recommendations that will support them in practice.
Talking about the ethical issues, Polit and Beck (2010) argue that “methods must be ethically appropriate, and must incorporate issues surrounding informed consent, the right to withdraw, sensitivity, confidentiality and anonymity of the participants”. In the article under scrutiny, one can discover several ethical issues addressed. The authors took care to enquire the authorisation of the university ethics committee. They also obtained voluntary informed consents from the participants who they invited by letters. The study itself addresses issues that would help the participants in their education. This means that principles such as respect, informed consent and justice have been taken into consideration. One would for example notice that the tape recording and the analysis were all coded, so not disclosing the identity of the participants. This is a very good system to keep the anonymity of the participants, which means confidentiality. Further, the participants were granted the freedom to take part in the research or withdraw from it without any problem. This is an aspect of respect (Kitchener and Kitchner, 2009). Finally, participants were given a consent form. This is also a form of freedom for the participant to accept or refuse to participle.
Dealing with the methods of a research, Cadwell et al (2005) proposed to examine several aspects. In this article, the researchers took the care of identifying the philosophical background and the study design as well as explaining the rationale behind their choice. They used a phenomenological life world approach, focused on the world as it is experienced before the formulation of any hypothesis to explain it. This is a suitable approach, because phenomenology is “a science whose purpose is to describe a particular phenomenon or the appearance of things, as lived experiences” (Carpenter 2007:43).
They also used the qualitative exploratory method, involving one tape-recorded semi-structured interview per participant, with an independent interviewer. The duration of the interview and the venue were determined. The method of analysis was also identified, a line-to-line and thematic analysis. It is also interesting to notice that there was a piloting study of the questions with professionals, and that the feedback obtained helped to refine the questions. This approach was properly selected, because the study is focussed on the human experience, and very little is known about the topic. (Burns and Grove, 2009) Further, the research gets more credibility not only because of the famous journal in which it was published, but also it went through a double-blind experiment before publication.
According to Cadwell et al (2005), a good research has to identify the major concepts and themes. In this article, three main themes were outlined, mainly the value of work-based learning days, the importance of the clinical placement mentor role, and the need for advocacy. Other themes also emerged, and the researchers put all of them in Box 2. Further, the authors included some excerpts from the interviews to point out what students said and thought about those themes. This makes things clear for any reader.
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Dealing with the selection of participants, one would say that there is a flow in this area, because the study does not tell how the participants were selected, neither does it identify the sampling methods. All the present researchers say is that they had two groups of people selected, six students with dyslexia and six other students without dyslexia, and that they were third year adult nursing students. They do not say anything about their gender, the severity of the dyslexia. Could it be justified in that it was a « convenience, purposive and selective sample, grounded on the researchers’ will to have participants readily available and easy to contact, participants with specific characteristics, in this case dyslexia and the selection of cases was done prior to the conduct of research” (Higginbottom, 2002).
Talking about the findings, a number of aspects can be considered, and Cadwell et al (2005) talk in terms of credibility, confirmability and transferability. “Credibility refers to the confidence in the truth value or believability of the study’s findings” (Polit, Beck and Hungler, 2006). Actually in this study, there is a huge description of the participants’ responses in the form of verbatim transcripts that can lead the readers to draw their own conclusions as well. There is a good relationship between the multiple sources used such as the literature review, the interview’s data and the researchers, note, and this adds to the credibility of the study (Streubert-Speziale, 2007). However it would appear that the participant validation suffers, because not much is said about the participants’ views on the conclusions obtained.
As for the confirmability or auditability,” it refers to the degree to which the results could be confirmed or corroborated by others.” Several strategies were used to enhance confirmability in this research. The authors have documented the procedures for checking and rechecking the data throughout the study. They audited their data by examining the data collection and analysis procedures. There is an assessment of the methodology used through the presentation of the methods, research notes and records of coding of the interviews. The reference to such documentations enable the reader to understand the researcher’s decision making ( Streubert-Speziale, 2007).
Transferability or fittingness is established by creating thick descriptions, which, when read by other researchers, can be applied in other contexts (Stringer (2007). The authors of this research recognized that the sample was so small that their findings could not be generalized. However as said by Stringer (2007), they also went a step further to believe that “the data collected will be of interest and relevance to others nationally and internationally who are redesigning their structures for student support and mentoring.” It would also seem that this transferability is strongly enhanced by the relationship between the conceptual framework of their research and the data collection and analysis (Marshall and Rossman, 2010).
The findings were presented in an appropriate way and they are clear to anyone who reads the article. They are also interesting in that in addition to identifying the main themes, the authors looked at the personalised strategies developed by the students and developed a toolkit to help them in their placement. The main recommendations and shared responsibilities are clearly summarised in Figure 1, under three areas: the university, the practice placement and the students, showing also areas of overlapping. The only aspect that seems a bit ill-placed is the questionnaire used in the study. An appendix at the end of the study would be preferred, because the way it is presented creates a sort of digression within the study.
The discussion expanded the findings with ideas related to time pressure, more training for mentors to be able to support students with dyslexia, student’s personalised plans from the university, development of strong links between the two institutions, development of personal skills in the university curriculum, advocacy to help students disclose their disability, more time needed to adjust to placement routines. The conclusions run smoothly as they summarized the main points of the research.
To conclude, it can be said that this study was properly undertaken. The title gives insights into the topic, the population and the research design. The abstract presented a summary of the whole study, the way it was conducted including the data, the analysis and the results. The method was appropriate, including the collection of the data, analysis procedures, and reasons for its selection. The discussion of the evidence can be considered adequate, and the findings relate to the original research question. The results identified the main themes of the study and include quotes from the participants. It also points out the limitations of the study transferability due to its small sample. The validity of the research is obvious as it makes a contribution to current practice. Among the weaknesses, one has to mention the lack of clear selection criteria for the participants, a lack of participants’ views on the findings and a large portion of outdated bibliography.
I finally close this appraisal by saying that it has helped me to develop critical thinking as it led me to read a lot in order to have a reasoned argument when assessing a fact, seeking for alternatives, supportive and challenging evidence. This opened my eyes to think more about better evidence to use in my future career as a nurse.
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