Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Critical thinking is a vital skill for the success of recent graduates, both to increase academic success and improve employability after graduation, especially in health science fields. However, many adult students fail to engage in critical thinking, especially in core courses such as anatomy and physiology (A&P). The purpose of this interpretive phenomenological qualitative study was to better understand adult students’ subjective theories regarding critical thinking and how adult students perceive the use of and any barriers or challenges to critical thinking in A&P while enrolled at Technical University. The theoretical framework that grounded this study was the Paul-Elder theory of critical thinking. Three research questions guided this study involving adult students’ subjective theories regarding critical thinking along with their perceptions of any barriers or challenges to critical thinking in A&P. Data from one-on-one semistructured interviews with 12 adult health science students who recently completed their first term of A&P were analyzed to identify common codes, categories, and themes. Results showed that the majority of adult students’ subjective theories regarding critical thinking aligned with the Paul-Elder definition of critical thinking, but their examples of critical thinking were actually examples of cognitive elaboration. Barriers included lack of time management, lack of note-taking skills, and didactic course structure inhibiting critical thinking in A&P. A faculty development workshop was designed to increase faculty’s understanding of students’ subjective theories regarding and barriers to critical thinking along with methods to mitigate barriers and develop course materials to encourage critical thinking in courses. An increase in critical thinking may improve student retention and clinical performance, contributing to better patient care and level of employability.
Dubofsky-Porter, Elizabeth Anne, "An Interpretive Phenomenological Study of Adult Students’ Subjective Theories of Critical Thinking in Anatomy and Physiology" (2020). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 8606.