In 1992, as part of a study funded by the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, the author conducted 26 interviews, 12 with students on the newly-introduced Diploma in Higher Education for Nurses, and 14 with District Nursing Sisters who supervised them during their community placements. The approach to the work was interpretive and was guided by phenomenology. It was discovered that one of the most valuable contributions of their 'community experience' was the opportunities it gave the students to 'think through' and develop their own ideas about their practice. The author's interpretation of these findings was influenced by Donald Schon's ideas about reflective practice and coaching. His theory that professional practice is based on 'knowing-in-action' and 'theories-in-use' which are formulated and modified through a process of 'reflection-in-action' seemed to have direct relevance for the learning acquired by students. The help and guidance given to students by their supervisors bore some resemblance to the types of coaching advocated by Schon, to which he gave the names 'Joint Experimentation', 'Follow Me' and 'Hall of Mirrors'. The interpretation placed on the data discussed here also, however, differs from Schon's theories in advocating that more attention should be given to the academic theory referred to by him as 'technical rationality'.