Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership

First Advisor

Pink, William

Second Advisor

Malin, Michele

Third Advisor

Schweizer, Heidi


This study developed as a result of nursing students asking what critical thinking is in both the classroom and the clinical learning setting. As a nursing educator, I often described critical thinking from my previous readings in nursing research, information presented at a nursing conference, or from my own clinical practice. I was most interested in investigating the development of critical thinking in a baccalaureate nursing program in order " ... to get a better understanding of the subject matter at hand" (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 4). Thus, the purpose of this study was to identify and investigate a nursing educator's, nursing students' and registered nurses' perspectives of critical thinking in a baccalaureate nursing program during learning experiences. The study also explored the degree to which student's perceptions of critical thinking are demonstrated in their nursing practice in the clinical learning setting. And finally, the study identified instructional methods and strategies that the nursing educator and the registered nurses utilized to facilitate and promote critical thinking. Nursing students need opportunities to learn how to care for complex and critically ill patients. Students also need to understand the rationale that supports nursing care. For this reason, a qualitative interpretative research study was important to increase my understanding of how critical thinking is actually developed, fostered, and promoted within the classroom learning experiences and then demonstrated at the patient's bedside. Nursing students need the opportunity to discuss and communicate the nursing care. I provided to complex patients in order to increase their understanding of critical thinking and nursing care. This study was important because critical thinking is essential in providing safe, competent, effective, and efficient nursing care.



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