The impact of participation in a study abroad programme on students' conceptual understanding of community health nursing in a developing country
A pilot study was undertaken to ascertain the changes in conceptual understanding that resulted from participation in a study abroad programme in Chiang Mai in Thailand of a small group of Australian final year nursing students.Students' conceptual understandings were measured by means of open-ended interviews based on a case study scenario describing health conditions in a hypothetical Thai village. Students were asked to imagine that they had been appointed to work as a community health nurse in the village and describe how they would undertake the task. Shifts in understanding were detected by interviewing the participants before, during and after their participation in the programme and comparing their responses. The results of this limited study indicated that the impact of participation in the programme was less than expected. Furthermore, the factors of which students tended to show greatest awareness were those about which they had been briefed prior to departure. Nevertheless participants reported they had learnt much from their experiences. It is suggested that the discrepancy between the evidence provided by interview data and students' self-reports may be explained by participation having resulted primarily in the acquisition of the tacit rather than conceptual knowledge.