Identify the role of theory in nursing research.
At the beginning of this class, I had very little understanding of the way theory and nursing research are related. I knew nursing research was useful for practice, and I had had much experience with finding and analyzing nursing research. However, I was having a hard time making the connection between theory and its usefulness in practice. The presentation by Lori Loan really helped me to make some of those crucial connections between theory and research. The most useful thing I learned from Lori was how to use theory as a framework to build and organize research. Research questions can be extremely complex, and it is hard to know how to organize all of the variables involved. I learned in this class that theory provides a mold into which one can fit data. In this way, theory guides research, and research guides practice. Since some theories predict, you can test a hypothesis with more certainty that it will be confirmed and therefore waste less time and resources on research. Another important thing I learned from Lori is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to research. Science is continually building a body of knowledge, and you can use work that someone else has already done, to make sense of your own research questions or to clarify which questions you should be asking. Another activity that helped me achieve this course objective was reading the articles that have either inductively established nursing theories or deductively confirmed existing theory. This helped me to understand how theory relates to nursing research and how theory and its concepts are always being generated, tested, and refined for use in practice.
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