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cognition, linguistic software, reflective journaling, prelicensure nursing students



  1. DeBlieck, Conni J. DNP, RN
  2. Summers, Linda C. PhD, RN, PNP-FNP-BC
  3. Saiki, Lori S. PhD, RN
  4. Kuchler, Elizabeth DNP, RN, FNP-BC
  5. Noe, Shelly DNP, RN, PMHNP-BC
  6. Lynch, Stephanie PhD, RN, FNP, PMHNP-BC
  7. Reinhardt, Anita C. PhD, RN
  8. Keller, Teresa PhD, RN


Background: Students' word choice when writing in a reflective journal may reveal their emotional development, sense of belonging, cognitive processing, and ability to appraise their own growth and understanding. New linguistic analysis software can scan and categorize these journals for the use of pronouns, positive and negative emotions, and cognitive keywords.


Methods: A retrospective study design evaluated student journaling from a psychiatric clinical course. Journal entries from weeks 1 and 12 were compared by z-score analysis.


Findings: Significant increases were found in the use of "we" (P = .001), positive emotions (P < .001), inclusion words (P < .001), and insight words (P = .004), whereas the use of cause and self-discrepancy words were not significantly different.


Conclusion: Identification of learning as expressed in words could have an impact on how student assignments are designed by including the use of the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software to assess changes in student cognition.