Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
This project study addressed the decline in successful passing rates for the National Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in a nursing program at a private university in the Midwestern United States. There is support from the literature for a connection between critical thinking skills of nursing students and successful passing of the NCLEX-RN. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine whether significant differences existed in mean critical thinking skill scores across time within groups (pretest to posttest) and between groups (simulation versus written case studies), as measured by the Health Science Reasoning Test. Cognitive learning theory as interpreted by Ausubel along with the Paul Elder critical thinking model comprised the frameworks for this study. In a quantitative causal-comparative pretest/posttest design, baccalaureate junior nursing students (N = 69) were investigated. A repeated measures mixed analysis of variance indicated there was no statistically significant difference in participants' mean critical thinking scores across time within groups (pretest to posttest) or between a simulation group (n = 36) and a written case studies comparison group (n = 33). The use of high-fidelity simulation as a teaching strategy versus written case studies to increase critical thinking skills of nursing students was not supported. The resulting project deliverable is a skills-development workshop for nursing faculty that would focus on multiple methods (as opposed to one method) of evidence-based teaching strategies that have been shown to increase critical thinking of nursing students. This study promotes positive social change by examining factors that can strengthen critical thinking in nurses. Factors associated with critical thinking can be addressed in training for nurses to enhance patient safety and outcomes.