Abstract A triangulation design using two simulations, non-participant observation and a semi-structured interview to explore senior student nurse performance in South East England is described. A comparison of student nurse performance (registered general nurse [RGN] programme n = 34; registered nurse Project 2000 diploma programme n = 34; integrated degree programme n = 31) indicated many similarities but also some important differences in outcomes which included: a more systematic approach to information-seeking, better care-planning skills and higher quality nurse performance among integrated degree programme participants; use of a model and the immediate role of the nurse to guide information-seeking and better care-planning skills and weaknesses in clinical nurse performance among RGN programme participants; and weaknesses in the information-seeking, care-planning and clinical nurse performance among Project 2000 diploma participants. There were no significant differences between the clinical performance scores of the RGN and diploma programme participants. The interview data suggested that the integrated degree programme participants had a client focus in contrast to the professional focus of RGN and Project 2000 diploma participants. The findings, however, must be viewed within the context of an exploratory study of limited sample size. The research was funded by the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting.