Building research capacity in Malawian nursing education—A key to development and change

Bodil Tveit, Eva Merethe Solum, Modesta Simango


Background: This article presents a study on a research capacity building project developed and implemented with 22 nurse educators in Malawi. The aim of the capacity building was to develop knowledge of and initiate research activities in and on nursing education in Malawi. The project was part of a long-term partnership between Norwegian and Malawian nurse educators which has run from 2005 to 2015.

Methods: An action research design comprised of three cycles, each which built on the other, was adopted. Participant observation, evaluations by participants, and reviews of participants’ research work in progress provided data to assess the impact and challenges of the interventions, and make necessary adjustments.

Results: The results indicate that encouraging research on nursing education focused on locally defined problems is a fruitful and motivating way to improve teachers’ competence. Participants found the intervention to be highly relevant to their work. They appreciated the cyclic approach and the alternation among input lectures, guided group work, and fieldwork. Participants valued the opportunity to analyze and discuss their own experiences in the light of relevant international research. They found the absence of existing research on nursing education in Malawi a motivation to continue researching.

Conclusions: Research capacity building for nurse educators through a participatory approach which addresses locally perceived problems can play an important role in the development of nursing education and practice. Increased collaboration among colleges and the creation of local professional learning communities are potential spin-off outcomes of this approach.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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