Team learning and team
composition in nursing
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery Science, University of Antwerp,
Roland Van Linge
Department of Nursing Sciences, University Medical Centre Utrecht,
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Peter Van Petegem
Institute of Education and Information Sciences, University of Antwerp,
Faculty of Medicine, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium, and
Department of General Practice, University of Antwerp,
Purpose – This study aims to explore team learning activities in nursing teams and to test the effect
of team composition on team learning to extend conceptually an initial model of team learning and to
examine empirically a new model of ambidextrous team learning in nursing.
Design/methodology/approach – Quantitative research utilising exploratory and conﬁrmatory
factor analyses, and correlation and multiple regression analyses, were used for empirical validation.
Findings – Principal component analyses of the team learning activities scale revealed a ﬁve-factor
model, explaining 78 per cent of the variance on the team-learning scale. Being a nursing team in a
community hospital, having high team longevity, and having a high percentage of female nurses
explained 33 per cent of team learning.
Research limitations/implications – Data aggregation in a cross-sectional design can be
criticised for potential biases. However, statistical assumptions for aggregation were met, and the
concepts used in this study were clearly formulated at team level. Thus, a valuable instrument is
provided for further quantitative research on team learning in nursing.
Practical implications – The team learning activities in nursing teams reﬂected the ambidexterity
of teams in modern nursing practice. The ﬁndings provide a rationale for managers to create
infrastructures that support both productive, as well as developmental learning tasks in teams.
Originality/value – The study provides new insights regarding how team learning activities occur
in ambidextrous teams in nursing. Contrary to prediction, the results show that team composition has
little effect on team learning activities. This is valuable knowledge for researchers, trainers, teams and
management in nursing.
Keywords Team learning, Health services, Knowledge processes, Learning organizations,
Paper type Research paper
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received November 2010
Revised January 2011
Accepted February 2011
Journal of Workplace Learning
Vol. 23 No. 4, 2011
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited