Metaphorical interpretations of the educator-student relationship: An innovation in nursing educational research

Chung Yee Zenobia Chan, Wai Tong Chien, Saras Henderson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has shown that collecting and analysing metaphors is a useful strategy in seeking data that are difficult to collect via verbal interviews or that cannot be represented by statistics. This study explored nursing students’ perceptions of the educator-student relationship using metaphorical interpretation. A qualitative study with a personal essay approach was adopted. A total of 124 students were recruited from a nursing school in Hong Kong. A personal essay form was distributed to the participants. They were asked to give a metaphor with explanations to describe the power dynamics in the educator-student relationship, within 200 words in English or Chinese. After some thought, the participants each gave their own metaphor individually, because the aim of this study was to collect their subjective experiences. The results were presented as follows: a) The overall description of the metaphors; b) The three groups of metaphors; c) The fives natures of metaphors; d) The most significant metaphors; and e) The four thematic meanings – (i) nurturing role; (ii) guiding role; (iii) insufficient connection; and (iv) promoting development. The implications for research methods and nurse education of collecting and analyzing metaphors were discussed. Discrepancies in metaphorical interpretations are to be expected, as interpretations are dependent on the researchers’ socio-cultural background, personal experiences, professional training, languages spoken, and other factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-53
Number of pages8
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Educator-student relationship
  • Metaphor
  • Nursing education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education


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