This research explored the effects of instructing first-semester nursing students in the use of focused reflection and articulation to promote clinical reasoning. Student volunteers were randomly assigned to four clinical groups. Two groups that received instruction in the use of focused reflection and articulation scored significantly higher on the practice measure of clinical reasoning, accounting for 29 percent of the variance between groups. Once clinical reasoning scores were tabulated, the top six and bottom six scorers on clinical reasoning were interviewed to identify qualitative differences between students with different reasoning levels. Themes from the interviews revealed that those with high clinical reasoning reported a high frequency of use of focused reflection and articulation, engaged in abstract learning, and were more self-regulated in their learning than those who scored low on clinical reasoning. This study provides empirical evidence that using instructional methods that focus learners' attention on the concrete application of theory in the practicum setting helps enhance their reasoning skills.