As the first round of an action research project, this paper describes a between-methods triangulation process which examines the effectiveness of tutorials in a post-registration nursing degree course. The major concerns of the research team were with student learning approaches and student satisfaction. The research utilized a pre-/post-test experimental design as well as descriptive designs including non-participant observation of tutorials, tutor journal keeping and student interviews, to study the effects of a change from theory-based to learning process-based tutorials. The experimental design utilized the 'study process questionnaire' and the 'approaches to study inventory'. Two experimental groups showed a significant change in pre-/post-test scores. The qualitative data indicated that there were differences in the ways in which these two groups operated. The qualitative data also indicated that students were largely subscribing to achieving approaches and that satisfaction with tutorials was mainly related to relevance to the previous lecture as well as the perceived contribution to course assessment. As a consequence of this study it was concluded that the efficiency of tutorials could be increased by reducing the number of assignments, designing a set of specific tutorial activities that integrate theory and process, and having an explicit tutorial group formation policy.