In nursing practice, drawing conclusions is one of the most important aspects of nursing care. The conclusions made depend on the available evidence. For one to draw conclusions, they are either guided by their experience or the results of an experiment carried out before. There is a difference between drawing conclusions using experience and drawing conclusions from experiments. Conclusions should be based on the evidence and previous knowledge but not on mere observation.
Difference between drawing conclusions from experience and drawing conclusions from experiments
One of the major differences between the two is that when drawing conclusions from an experiment, it is more likely to be inductive. Experiments are based on observations of samples placed under certain conditions to give results. The premises given might be true but this is not always the case with a conclusion. In this case, experiments provide partial evidence for the conclusion. Alternatively, the elements considered in the experiment may not put into consideration all factors affecting the phenomena (Omery, et.al, 1995).
Drawing conclusions from experience offers one a chance to communicate their thinking and logical reasoning. On the contrary, if one is drawing conclusions from experiments they have to be referred to or guided by the results and discussions of the experiment. Too much reliance on experiments does not adequately develop the nurse’s critical thinking. Experience enables one to reconsider other possibilities not clearly stated in studies or findings. They introduce their individual meaning to the context by linking it to previous knowledge (Masters, 2005).
Drawing conclusions from experiments also gives the nurse a clear reference when drawing their evidence. A reliable experiment gives the cause-and-effect relationship thus leading to the succinct and clear conclusion (Reed & Shearer, 2007). This way, students or nurses use suggestions or evidence from the experimental data to develop evidence when the facts are not directly stated and they must therefore dig deeper to details to obtain other meanings. As such, the conclusion made is more or less likely to be uncertain.
Experiments tend to guide the nurse towards inductive reasoning by providing the potential to come up with new knowledge. The premises might be true but the conclusion may not always be true. This can be attributed to factors like wrong observations during controlled experiments (Wainwright, 1997). In addition, it is not always possible to carry out every experiment since some could be unethical and impractical. Experiments are also expensive and time-consuming hence not possible to include all the variables needed to give results. Experience enables one to arrive to a conclusion based on premises of an earlier evidenced phenomenon.
Premises from experiments rarely translate to an entirely true conclusion. This is attributed to the fact that most experiments are not applicable in real-life situations. There is always the problem of induction and uniformity of nature. We can only assume that nature will remain unchanged in future so that the findings remain relevant. There is also the issue of confounding factors where no matter how good and persuasive the evidence is there must be flaw in the conclusion since the perspectives vary between people and conditions (Laudan, 1977).
Drawing conclusions from experience is more inclusive since it combines facts, findings, and beliefs. When the nurse is basing conclusions on experience, they consider the outcomes and findings they have seen before, to derive premises. Thinking is presented on facts such that a premise comes close to a conclusion. In this case, inadequacies in experiments can be addressed by prior knowledge and logical reasoning.
Conclusions made from experiments often require that the nurses make provisions for other factors that could be influencing the results (Kuhn, 1996). For instance, in an experiment on the effect of using aspirin on heart disease, a sample of 150 people who use aspirin and other 150 people who do not is taken. If their heart condition is examined and those using aspirin record lower risks, one cannot conclude that aspirin reduces the risk of heart diseases. This is because there could be other factors that affect the same such as fitness and diet. Therefore, the premises may be true on the effect of aspirin on heart condition, but may not lead to a true conclusion.
On the other hand, drawing conclusions from experience requires high level of skills and decisiveness. It also involves comparing the emerging and the existing data as well as evidence to arrive to a relevant conclusion. However, the biggest problem, in this case, is biasness. The student or nurse ought to be as objective as possible when drawing conclusions from experience to achieve a relation between premise and conclusion.
When drawing conclusions from experience there is an impact of a student’s perspective, since a person’s perspective is affected by the experience. In this context, students bring together experiences, ideas, and information gathered earlier to conclude. The experience-based conclusion is therefore self-contained because all the required information is available. As a matter of fact, experience is gained by attending to patients, in person and virtual discussions inside and outside the hospital or school setting (Houser , 2008).
The difference between conclusions based on experience and conclusions drawn from experiments is quite evident. Experienced-based conclusion enables the student to put their personal perspective on the issue. It also involves drawing a conclusion based on evidence that could actually translate to actual conclusion. It is a combination of knowledge, beliefs, and experience. The conclusion drawn from experiments on the other hand gives the nurse or student an opportunity to engage logical reasoning. It also leaves a room for further investigations as factors affecting the finding keep changing in certain areas. To achieve a premise that translates to a true conclusion there should be a good mix of the two methods.
Houser, J. (2008). Nursing research: reading, using, and creating evidence Jones & Bartlett Learning, 586 pages. Print.
Kuhn, T. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions, 3rd Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Print.
Laudan, L. (1977). Progress and its problems: Towards a theory of scientific growth. Berkeley: University of California Press. Print.
Masters, K. (2005). Role development in professional nursing practice Jones & Bartlett Learning, 347 pages. Print.
Omery, A., Kasper, C.E., & Page, G.G, (1995). In search of nursing science. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Print.
Reed, P.G, & Shearer, N.C. (2007). Perspectives on nursing theory. 5th edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. Print.
Wainwright, P. (1997). Nursing informatics: the impact of nursing knowledge on healthcare informatics, IOS Press. Print.