Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Billie Andersson


Critical-thinking is an essential skill that graduate nurses need to make sound clinical decisions. While traditional lecturing is the method most commonly used in nursing education, incorporating problem-based learning (PBL) into nursing curricula has been suggested as a better option for students' learning of theory and practice. The purpose of this study was to explore the difference in critical-thinking and problem-solving skills between nursing students taught using PBL versus those taught with traditional classroom lectures. A quasi-experimental approach, with cognitive learning theory as the foundation, was used to compare the results of an Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) Comprehensive Predictor posttest in the control group, taught using the traditional learning method, and the experimental group, taught using PBL. Two-way ANOVA was used to analyze the effect of 2 independent variables: archived ATI Fundamentals Nurse exam proxy pretest scores, divided into low and high groups, and control or experimental group assignment, on the posttest scores of 192 nursing students at the study site. The results of the study showed that the main effect of the treatment, PBL vs. non-PBL, was significant, F(1, 191) = 116.77, p < .001, and the main effect for pretest groups was significant, F(1, 191) = 121.79, p < .001. The interaction effect was also significant, F(1, 191) = 8.04, p = .005, indicating that the effect of PBL was greater for nursing students in the low pretest group. The results of this study provide the premise for recommendations for nurse educators regarding the use of alternative teaching methods. The study may promote social change by providing preliminary research results to the local site that may contribute to improving the quality of nurse education.

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Nursing Commons