Bridging the Theory-Practice Gap: Situated Learning as a Pedagogical Framework/or Teaching Undergraduate Nursing Students

  • Jason Hickey
  • Zohra Hasnani-Samnani
  • Ken Ryba


A theory-practice gap has been described in the literature where essential nursing skills and knowledge covered in the classroom do not transfer well to the clinical setting. In order to minimize this gap, a situated learning framework was implemented to teach essential skills and knowledge to 2nd year medical/surgical nursing students. This paper describes the innovative development and implementation of this approach in detail. A clinical simulation center was utilized to create an authentic learning environment and a collaborative community of practice was established through the use of situated learning strategies. These included case scenarios, reflective practice and debriefing, cognitive apprenticeship, collaboration, coaching, multiple practices, articulation of learning skills, and the use of technology. The situated learning approach enabled simultaneous delivery of multiple teaching and learning points. Students' feedback suggests that this hands-on, interactive approach is engaging for students and teachers, has potential to reduce the theory-practice gap and is a viable and valuable theoretical approach to nursing instruction.