Nursing professor Noeman Mirza wants his students to be the kind of thinkers who can easily wade through complex patient situations.
So, in a study that combines science and philosophy, Dr. Mirza is embarking on a two-year research project on how to inject “abductive reasoning” into nursing training. American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce coined the term to describe a form of logic that seeks to find the simplest and most likely conclusion from a set of observations.
Mirza’s goal is to help students become better at generating hypotheses and through that, improve patient care.
“In the discipline of nursing, hypothesis generation is an integral component of scientific reasoning used by nurses to make sense of client situations,” he said.
“Employers expect post-secondary institutions to prepare practice-ready nurses who can competently manage complex client situations. However, research shows the majority of new nursing graduates are unable to generate sound and accurate hypotheses, leading to misinterpretation of data, decision errors, poor prioritization and management, and inaccurate interventions — consequences that jeopardize client safety.”
Mirza has received a federal grant of nearly $61,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for his study. It will expand on ground-breaking work he has already done into complex reasoning in nursing education and will allow his findings to be applied to other disciplines.
Mirza has named his study the Effects of Abductive Reasoning Training on Hypotheses — EARTH for short.
“The EARTH study will improve nursing students’ hypothesis generation abilities, which may improve their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills,” he said.
“It will also provide evidence to support or refute the claim that abductive reasoning increases brain activation and may suggest a possible link between abductive reasoning and cognitive development.”