In nursing, we have struggled with teaching students how to write professionally and technically for a nursing audience. Nursing students use many different styles of writing during the curriculum including writing informal journal entries, health assessments, case studies, and progress notes. These styles are very different from a formal paper. During the WAC Fellowship, the nursing faculty learned the importance of stressing writing for the appropriate audience and to incorporate writing as a vehicle for critical thinking.
One of our most challenging assignments is a critique of a research article. Nurses often use evidence to guide practice, therefore, being able to critique the evidence, decide its value, and communicate that to their professional peers is a critical part of their education. Through working with the WAC Fellowship faculty, we have developed new ways to practice these skills by using critical thinking writing assignments in Nursing Research course in order to better prepare students for this task. Instead of traditional weekly discussion postings, weekly assignments will ask students to apply what they have learned about research to critique articles during the semester. In addition, students will be able to receive feedback from peers and the instructor and make revisions of their work based on the feedback. We feel this change in focus of the weekly assignments will prepare students better for critiquing and using research in practice.