A Theoretical Analysis of Carper's Ways of Knowing Using a Model of Social Cognition

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Although Carper's model of the ways of knowing in nursing has played a critical role in delineating the body of knowledge that comprises the discipline, questions remain regarding the defining properties of the knowledge structures, how they relate to each other, and how they function in the process of knowing. In this article, we propose that the cognitive model of social knowledge developed within the field of social psychology can be used to extend our understanding of the form and function of the four types of nursing knowledge. Empirical, personal, esthetic and ethical knowledge are compared with semantic, episodic and procedural knowledge specified in the cognitive model, and the schema construct, which is defined as an organized package of these three types of knowledge, is proposed as an integrative framework for addressing the relationships among the four types of nursing knowledge and their role in the process of knowing. Implications for nursing theory development, education and practice are addressed.

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