Nursing (NURS) 608

Philosophical and Critical Foundations in Nursing


Delivery Mode: Paced/home-study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: None

Centre: Centre for Nursing and Health Studies


As the introductory course to the Master of Nursing: Generalist (MN) degree, NURS 608: Philosophical Foundations of Nursing provides you with the opportunity to explore philosophical foundations of nursing knowledge and ways of knowing from a critical perspective. Together we will examine many viewpoints about how nursing knowledge is structured, developed, and how it relates to the work we do as nurses. Throughout this course, you will be challenged to answer the following questions related to your views of nursing as a means of personalizing learning to practice: 1) What do I think I know? 2) How can I think differently? 3) How can I connect new knowledge to practice? and, 4) What do I think I know now?

Each unit of the course includes a brief overview video that outlines key concepts for the unit, learning outcomes, learning resources, and learning activities. Learning activities and assignments for achieving and evaluating the achievement of course goals and learning outcomes seek to engage learners, inspire interactions in the class community and beyond, and further digital literacy skills such as: initiating an ePortfolio, (re)defining and creating a professional digital identity, and developing strategies for curation, management, and synthesis of information.

The ePortfolio is professional space where you can store information about yourself and your accomplishments, including various artefacts created throughout your MN program. You can also host a blog and use this space as a central hub for storing resources and communicating to the world in a professional capacity. In this course you will develop a professional ePortfolio, which you have the option of making public, private, or unlisted. This space will grow as you progress through the NURS 608 course and your MN program.

Course Learning Outcomes

By the conclusion of NURS 608 you will be able to:

  • examine the philosophical foundations that inform your views related to nursing, (What do I think I know?);
  • compare and contrast various approaches to the development of nursing knowledge, (How can I think differently?);
  • analyze ontological, epistemological, and methodological implications of various paradigms of nursing knowledge and ways of knowing, (How can I think differently?);
  • critique alternatives to paradigmatic approaches to nursing knowledge, (How can I think differently?);
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of how evidence is constructed and knowledge legitimized in differing worldviews, (How can I connect new knowledge to practice?);
  • examine the relevance of views of nursing knowledge to the advancement of the nursing profession and your own nursing practice (How can I connect new knowledge to practice?);
  • curate and synthesize scholarly literature concerning ways of thinking about nursing knowledge to formulate a personal philosophy of nursing (What do I think I know now?); and
  • establish a professional digital identity that embodies your philosophical views related to nursing (What do I think I know now?).

Learning Resources

There is no print textbook for this course. All learning resources are available online. Scholarly articles and chapters from e-texts are available from the Athabasca University (AU) online library. Other online resources including videos and other multi-media resources are included in the course and available without cost. Most of the learning resources used in the course are Open Educational Resources (OER).

Course Structure

NURS 608 is an asynchronous online course with a specific start and end date over one 13-week session. This means, for the most part, there are no predetermined times when you must log on (e.g., for a video lecture every Monday at 2 pm).

The two exceptions are the real-time group sessions that occur in the first and last units of the course. We will use the web conferencing software Adobe Connect; instructors provide you with a link for each session. While attending these real-time sessions is desirable, be reassured that the Adobe Connect sessions will be recorded to accommodate learners who are not able to attend in real-time.

Additionally, at specified times, the NURS 608 course leader or course instructor will make an online presentation (written or video) in the forum of the unit being studied at that time. Once the online presentation is posted, you are encouraged to add to the discussion in a timely fashion. We highly recommend that you check in on the discussion at least twice a week and contribute. Checking in and contributing several times a week is even more desirable so that discussion continues back and forth among participants.

Course Overview

NURS 608 consists of the following seven units:

  • Unit 1: Building a Learning Community and Asking — Why Do Philosophy?
  • Unit 2: Taking a Second Look at the Profession of Nursing
  • Unit 3: Examining My Views: What do I Think I Know About the Metaparadigm of Nursing
  • Unit 4: Challenging My Ways of Thinking: Philosophical Foundations — The Ontological Dimension
  • Unit 5: Challenging My Ways of Thinking: Philosophical Foundations – The Epistemological Dimension
  • Unit 6: Challenging My Ways of Thinking: Philosophical Foundations – The Ethical Dimension
  • Unit 7: Nursing Theories and Models: Conceptual and Philosophical Foundations
  • Unit 8: Reflection Week
  • Unit 9: Nursing Knowledge Comes to Life in Practice
  • Unit 10: What Do I Think I Know Now? My Now Philosophy of Nursing
  • Unit 11: The Future of Nursing Knowledge

Assessment Structure, Grading and Style Requirements

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 What Do I Think I Know?
Scholarly Paper: My View of the Ontological Dimension of Nursing
Assignment 2 How Can I Think Differently?
Presentation: Theorist Prezi and Scenario Analysis
Assignment 3 Connecting New Knowledge to Practice
Video: Lunch with a Theorist Video
Assignment 4 What Do I Think I Know Now?
Scholarly Paper: My New Personal Philosophy of Nursing 
Total 100%

Students must achieve an overall program GPA of 2.7 (B- or 70 percent), to graduate. The minimum passing grade requirement for each course is C- (60 percent).

All written assignments in your graduate program must be completed according to the format described in the current edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.