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Usefulness of Abductive Reasoning in Nursing Education

A Pilot Study

Mirza, Noeman A. PhD, RN; Akhtar-Danesh, Noori PhD; Noesgaard, Charlotte MScN, RN; Martin, Lynn EdD, RN; Byrne, Carolyn PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000755
Nurse Educator: PDF Only

Background Hypothetico-deductive reasoning used by novice nurses could limit their ability to explain a presenting care situation in its entirety. Hence, scholars recommend the use of abductive reasoning as an alternative approach.

Purpose This study explored the effects of abductive reasoning training on baccalaureate nursing students' hypothesis generation abilities.

Method Through a pretest-posttest study, we delivered educational training on abductive reasoning and examined hypothesis accuracy, expertise, and breadth. Participants generated scenario-specific hypotheses before and after the training. Academic content experts validated the scenarios, and 2 independent raters scored participants' hypotheses.

Results Twenty first- and second-year nursing students participated in this pilot study. Posttest scores showed a significant improvement in participants' hypothesis generation abilities: accuracy (P < .001), expertise (P < .001), and breadth (P = .006).

Conclusion Abductive reasoning training in nursing education may improve students' hypothesis generation abilities.

Author Affiliations: Assistant Professor (Dr Mirza), School of Nursing, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia; and Associate Professors (Dr Danesh and Ms Noesgaard), Assistant Professor (Dr Martin), and Professor (Dr Byrne), School of Nursing, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Mirza, School of Nursing, Thompson Rivers University, 805 TRU Way, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada V2C 0C8 (

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Accepted for publication: September 1, 2019

Published ahead of print: November 1, 2019

Cite this article as: Mirza NA, Akhtar-Danesh N, Noesgaard C, Martin L, Byrne C. Usefulness of abductive reasoning in nursing education: a pilot study. Nurse Educ. 2019. doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000755. [Epub ahead of print]

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