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Charting Cognitive Growth of Nursing Students Using Linguistic Software

DeBlieck, Conni J., DNP, RN; Summers, Linda C., PhD, RN, PNP-FNP-BC; Saiki, Lori S., PhD, RN; Kuchler, Elizabeth, DNP, RN, FNP-BC; Noe, Shelly, DNP, RN, PMHNP-BC; Lynch, Stephanie, PhD, RN, FNP, PMHNP BC; Reinhardt, Anita C., PhD, RN; Keller, Teresa, PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000658
Nurse Educator: PDF Only

Background Students' word choice when writing in a reflective journal may reveal their emotional development, sense of belonging, cognitive processing, and ability to appraise their own growth and understanding. New linguistic analysis software can scan and categorize these journals for the use of pronouns, positive and negative emotions, and cognitive keywords.

Methods A retrospective study design evaluated student journaling from a psychiatric clinical course. Journal entries from weeks 1 and 12 were compared by z-score analysis.

Findings Significant increases were found in the use of “we” (P = .001), positive emotions (P < .001), inclusion words (P < .001), and insight words (P = .004), whereas the use of cause and self-discrepancy words were not significantly different.

Conclusion Identification of learning as expressed in words could have an impact on how student assignments are designed by including the use of the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software to assess changes in student cognition.

Author Affiliations: Assistant Professor (Drs DeBlieck, Saiki, Kuchler, Noe, and Lynch), Associate Professor (Drs Summers and Reinhardt), and Professor (Dr Keller), School of Nursing, College of Health and Social Science, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr DeBlieck, School of Nursing, New Mexico State University, 1335 International Mall, MSC 3185, Las Cruces, NM 88003 (

Accepted for publication: January 28, 2019

Published ahead of print: March 13, 2019

Cite this article as: DeBlieck CJ, Summers LC, Saiki LS, et al. Charting cognitive growth of nursing students using linguistic software. Nurse Educ. 2019; doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000658. [Epub ahead of print]

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