Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathy Zientek


Despite national nursing exams that assess critical thinking, new nurses do not fully develop the skills to think critically. The literature review revealed that the lack of critical thinking endangers patients' lives. This study's purpose was to investigate how students are supported by college faculty in their knowledge of critical thinking to ensure they are prepared to care for patients. Participants were a purposeful sample of full-time nursing educators with doctoral or master's degrees in nursing, familiar with critical thinking, who have taken nursing students to clinical settings. The study had a basic qualitative design with 8 semistructured interviews. The conceptual framework was Tanner’s clinical judgment model. Data were analyzed using Braun and Clarke's six-step thematic analysis to explore how faculty in an associate degree nursing program in a Northeastern state support students' critical thinking to provide care to patients and what barriers prohibit these faculty from developing nursing students' critical thinking. Findings showed that faculty used inquiry-based questioning, interactive methods, hypothetical scenarios, and simulations to support critical thinking. The barriers are the high number of students compared to available resources, organizations' restrictions and limitations, unmotivated students, and lack of professional training for faculty. The recommendations are for a concept-based curriculum using concept maps, a blueprint to teach critical thinking, and ongoing faculty training. This study could bring about positive social change due to the training of critical thinking nurses who cause a shift in nursing practice by providing members of society with high-quality and efficient nursing care that does not endanger, harm, or cause patients' death.

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Nursing Commons