How To Write A Bibliography For An Assignment Of Benefits

Writing in Nursing Bibliography


Provides an introduction to writing across the curriculum and writing in the disciplines, a list of links to Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines (WAC/WID) programs, and a selected bibliography for further reading.

Contributors: Jaclyn Wells
Last Edited: 2010-04-21 08:08:54

Writing is integral to nursing for a number of different reasons. Patient care, issues of nursing liability, and the learning of different nursing skills are all reliant upon writing as a tool and source of communication. Writing occurs in the forms of nurses' notes, clinical studies, and scholarly research.

Much has been written about the role the writing plays in the development of student nurses into professionals. This bibliography is intended to be a starting place for persons interested in using writing in their courses or as a resource for those who are already using writing in their courses but are looking for new ways to implement its use. (This resource was originally written by Created by Julia Romberger, 2000.)

If you are looking for resources that will help you with writing in nursing, please visit the OWL's Writing in Nursing material.

Writing in the Nursing Classroom: Experiences, Strategies, and Assignments

Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996.

John Bean"s intent in this work is to present a "nuts and bolts guide" to assist teachers in all the disciplines to design and integrate writing assignments into their classrooms. The book discuss the theoretical foundations for such practices, gives detailed advice on constructing a variety of different assignments, and attempts to provide options for using writing to promote thinking. The book does not presume previous familiarity with either composition or pedagogical theory and is written in a direct and accessible style.

Bean, John. Drenk, Dean, and F.D. Lee. "Microtheme Strategies for Developing Cognitive Skills." Teaching Writing in all the Disciplines. 27 - 38.

In this chapter, the strategy of using micro-themes or short essays within either large or small classroom contexts is explored. The authors give examples of several different genres of micro-themes including: the summary, argumentation and thesis support, inductive reasoning from data,and quandary posing. The chapter concludes with an examination of the pedagogical validity of the use of micro-themes and suggestions for implementing their use.

Boyd, Laurel "Involvement? Write a letter: One Curriculum Strategy" Nurse Educator. 10.6 (Nov/Dec 1985) 26 - 8.

The assignment idea outlined and utilized by Professor Boyd incorporates basic principles of both WAC and Cultural Studies and suggests several real-world forums in which students can participate. This assignment engages them in relevant audience and social issues as well as giving added import to writing assignments.

Brown, Hazel and Jeanne Sorrell. "Use of Clinical Journals to Enhance Critical Thinking" Nurse Educator. 18.5 (Sept/Oct. 1993) 16-19.

Critical thinking skills can be enhanced by giving students structured writing assignments. Suggestions are given for different assignment focuses (objective writing, summary writing, argument writing) that specifically target certain skills. Additionally, pitfalls to be avoided in grading and assignment design are listed.

Cameron, Brenda L. and Agnes M Mitchell. "Reflective Peer Journals: Developing Authentic Nurses" Journal of Advanced Nursing. 18.2 (Feb 1993) 290-97.

Drawing from literature in the composition and nursing fields, Cameron and Mitchell propose a theoretical framework for the use of journals in nursing courses. The problems of the log format are discussed using the peer journal format, which is endorsed by the authors. Guidelines for peer journals are developed based on the theory the article explores.

Fulwiler, Toby, ed. The Journal Book. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1987.

This book was pivotal in the movement to introduce journal writing to a variety of classroom settings. The introduction of the book provides guidelines for the use of journals in the classroom. The third section of the book focuses on the use of journals in the quantitative and qualitative classrooms. The articles are written by a variety of teachers who successfully used journals in their various disciplinary classrooms from elementary through the collegiate level.

Heinrich, Kathleen T. "Intimate Dialogue: Journal Writing by Students"" Nurse Educator. 17.6 (Nov/Dec 1992) 17-21.

Professor Heinrich gives a critical examination of the uses and potential misuse of journaling within a nursing course. Specific recommendations for journal assignments are given based upon experiences with various course sizes and learning styles. The author draws the theoretical and pedagogical basis for these suggestions from literature in the fields of composition studies, nursing, and education.

Hurtig, Wendy Olive Younge, Danin Bodnar and Marilyn Berg. "Interactive Journal: A Clinical Teaching Tool" Nurse Educator. 14.6 (Nov/Dec 1989) 17, 31, 35.

This article looks at journal writing from another perspective, that of a valuable tool for opening up communication between students and faculty. It discusses the use of journaling within a specific context (psychiatric clinical experience) and how it operated for the participants.

McCarthy, Donna O. and Barbara J. Bowers. "Implementation of Writing to Learn in a Program of Nursing" Nurse Educator. 19.3 (May/June 1994) 32-5.

In this article, the issue of introducing Writing to Learn into a nursing curriculum is addressed. The authors draw upon both composition and nursing pedagogy to suggest strategies and assignments. The article ends with a discussion of faculty experience with implementing these strategies.

Implementation of WID, WAC, and Writing to Learn in Nursing Curricula

Allen, David G., Barbara Bowers and Nancy Diekelmann. "Writing to Learn: A Reconceptualization of Thinking and Writing in the Nursing Curriculum" Journal of Nursing Education. v. 28.1 (Jan 1989) 6-11.

This piece gives a clear demonstration of the differences between learning to write and Writing to Learn. The authors explore the ways that Writing to Learn can be integrated into a nursing curricula and discuss the benefits to instructors and students.

Lashley, Mary and Rosemary Wittstadt. "Writing Across the Curriculum: An Integrated Curricular Approach to Developing Critical Thinking Through Writing." Journal of Nursing Eduction. 32. 9 (Nov 1993) 422-4.

Lashley and Wittstadt explain how one school implemented WAC throughout a nursing curriculum. They describe the steps of reviewing the literature, selecting types of assignments, surveying faculty on existing writing requirements, and making recommendations, which they include, for creating writing requirements in courses that build upon previous course experiences.

Megel, Mary. "Nursing Scholars, Writing Dimensions and Productivity" Research in Higher Education. 27.3 (1987) 226 - 43.

The study builds on initial research in composition studies by specifically examining the difficulties of nursing scholars at the doctoral level. After conducting observations and collecting the data presented in the article, the author comes to a position relevant to proponents of WAC. Scholarly productivity was related directly to the amount of writing engaged in each week. Additionally, the author recommends that faculty develop strategies for fostering better writing skills and positive attitudes toward writing.

Pinkava, Barbara and Carol Haviland. "Teaching Writing and Thinking Skills" Nursing Outlook. 32.5 (Sept/Oct 1984) 270-72.

The authors discuss the successful experience of implementing Writing to Learn pedagogy into a nursing program through coordination between nursing faculty and writing center staff both within and without the classroom.

Poirrier, Gail. Writing to Learn: Curricular Strategies for Nursing and other Disciplines. New York: NLN Press, 1997.

This collection of essays covers a wide range of topics including a basic introduction to the principles of WAC and the theoretical basis for using Writing to Learn in a nursing curriculum, a variety of assignments, projects, and classroom experiences with them, and useful discussions on designing curriculum that incorporates Writing to Learn pedagogy.

Sorrell, Jeanne. "The Composing Process of Nursing Students in Writing Nurses" Notes" Journal of Nursing Education. 30.4 (April 1991) 162-7.

This study of the composition process of 62 nursing students in lab and the hospital is valuable for locating the difficulties students have in making the transition from one environment to the next. The article stresses that these difficulties must be examined carefully and taken into consideration by teachers and strategies developed to ease the transition.

Sorrell, Jeanne M. and James Metcalf. "Nurses as Writers" Nursing Connections. 11.2 (Summer 1998) 24-32.

This article provides a well-grounded practical argument for the use of Writing in the Disciplines within a nursing curriculum. It outlines a course, Nurses as Writers, specifically designed to teach the various types of writing required in the nursing profession, and discusses the experiences of students and their reactions to the class.

Rationale for the WAC, WID, and Writing to Learn: An Annotated Bibliography for Nursing Curricula

Content for this bibliography was chosen for its relevancy to the following:

  • the concerns of nursing programs
  • application of nursing education pedagogy
  • application of composition studies theory.

“Write to Learn”

“Write to Learn” assignments are used in many disciplines to keep students writing frequently and informally.

Incorporating short writing assignments in a college classroom can provide many benefits for students, including giving students more writing practice and helping students explore ideas.  For faculty, one of the main benefits of using “write to learn” assignments is that you don’t have to grade them in conventional ways and yet they help students think about and learn the course content.

For effective “write to learn” assignments, consider the following guidelines:

  • Assign short writing assignments in class (3-10 minutes).
  • Ask students to write a word, a sentence, question, or a paragraph in response to class discussion or homework.
  • Elicit multiple responses throughout a class period via brief written responses.


Freewriting is perhaps the simplest way to encourage students to write with ease. Students may have encountered freewriting before and may have different associations with the process than you, the instructor, do, so if you encourage freewriting in your class, be sure to clarify what you mean by freewriting and the purpose of the freewriting activity before you begin!

  • Take a look at this  short summary on the benefits of freewriting by Peter Elbow.
  • This link offers both an explanation of the benefits of freewriting and some sample questions that can be modified for different disciplines.

One-Minute Papers

One-minute papers typically include a specific prompt that must be responded to efficiently. Also, teachers can use one-minute papers to gauge the effectiveness of a particular lesson or discussion.

  • This link provides a general overview of how to use one-minute papers in a college classroom.
  • This link suggests ways to incorporate various types of one-minute prompts.


Microthemes are condensed writing activities that actually require significant thought before writing (distinguishing it from the freewrite). Because of their size—usually fitting onto a notecard—it is quick to grade, and is less intimidating to the student.

  • This article by Ray Smith, Director of the Campus Writing Program at Indiana University, Bloomington, is a useful and brief explanation of the theories behind microthemes.
  • This website breaks down the microtheme into four interdisciplinary categories.


Many educators are moving away from the term “journals” and are beginning to call them logbooks or notebooks. The logbook encourages students to keep responses to readings, lectures, experiments, or class discussions. Creating a dialectical logbook ensures that students will both recall and reflect.  This link offers specific examples of a few different ways to envision the dialectical notebook.


Have students ask a question, hypothesize possible answers, then ask new questions based upon information gained through lecture or reading.  May be used during single lectures or across a series of lectures, may be done individually in class or assigned for homework, may form the basis for small group discussion or individual presentations.

Scenario Prompts using “Small Genres”

Create short scenarios related to course material for students to respond to in “small genres” such as letters, editorials, memos, short “plays,” etc.

Sample Scenario Prompt: You have been invited to address the City Council meeting to advocate for the issue of [insert issue] and must provide the Council members with a handout offering a short summary of your main points and three bullet items, with brief explanations, of your supporting reasons.

Student-designed Assessment

Have students prepare examination questions which may be used on quizzes, midterms, and finals.  Here, the instructor will gain some insight as to whether the students have grasped the main concepts for a topic.  Also, the students will more carefully evaluate their notes, since it is their own exam they are composing. PDF here (page 11).

Writing Out of the Day (WOOD)

Students will be asked at the end of each class period to summarize what was learned that day.  The instructor will also write along with the students.  The class will read their summaries to each other and rewrite anything they might have missed in their summary as a homework assignment. PDF here (page 17).

Semester-Long Project/ Exam Preparation Journals

This method provides strong intrinsic motivation for exploratory writing and uses course exams to drive a maximum amount of learning.  To use the method, the teacher, early in the course, gives out a list of essay questions from which midterm and final exam questions will be drawn.  Students are instructed to devote a section of their journals to each question.  Then students gradually work out answers to the questions as course material builds and develops.  Some teachers allow students to use their preparation journals during the exams.

John Bean, Engaging Ideas:  The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2001), 109.



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