Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Health Science (Honours)


School of Nursing


Western Australian College of Advanced Education

First Supervisor

Anthony Hussey

Second Supervisor

Dr Sybe Jongeling


This study measured the cognitive learning outcomes of registered nurses who completed a short cardiac nursing course. This course was held in a metropolitan teaching hospital during four weeks in September, 1989. The author grouped the twenty participants into one of two groups according to prior acute cardiac nursing experience; (1) those who had less than six months post-basic cardiac nursing experience; and (2) those who had six months or more post-basic cardiac nursing experience. A pre-course test and post-course test was given to the participants to measure the dependent variable, that is, cognitive knowledge. Using as case-comparative design, the results of both groups were then compared to determine what effect prior experience, the independent variable, had on the learning outcomes. That is, which group benefits more from a course? The study’s main purpose was to contribute to the dearth of literature on assessment of cognitive learning outcomes in nursing courses. An adaptation of Stake’s Countenance Model of Evaluation (1973) was used which provided a means to propose and test relationships between the variables via three hypotheses. The Gestalt cognitive discovery view of learning formed the theoretical rationale for the study and results were discussed in light of this view. This study found that whilst prior relevant experience has significant effect on the scores gained by the experienced nurses, the most significant results was the gain scores of the non-experienced nurses whose scores from pre-test to post-test rose by almost two standard deviations. The gain scores of the experienced nurses rose be only one standard deviation. These results indicate that cognitive learning had taken place and that both groups of nurses benefit from such a course. As even a rise of one standard deviation is very significant.