An analysis of teaching critical thinking as perceived by female baccalaureate nurse educators

Date of Completion

January 1993


Health Sciences, Education|Health Sciences, Nursing|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Most curricula of baccalaureate nursing programs contain a statement advocating the development of critical thinking in their students. In addition, the National League for Nursing uses a specific criterion (V, 27) to evaluate nursing programs for accreditation which emphasizes the development of critical thinking in the curriculum. Program developers agree that the curricula and the presentation of courses are affected by the attitudes, knowledge and skills of the nursing faculty. Based on this, critics of nursing curricula believe the written curricula of nursing programs are not being carried out by faculty. This study examined how nursing programs promote critical thinking and how the faculty carry out NLN Criterion V, 27.^ Four schools of nursing with the highest NCLEX (National Council Licensing Exam) scores within two northeastern states were selected. The Deans/Chairs of these NLN accredited schools were asked to identify four nurse educators whom they felt would agree to participate in this study. Eight female, full time, nurse educators agreed to volunteer their perceptions and ideas. Two classroom observations per faculty, an interview of approximately ninety minutes and the completion of a short demographic survey were rendered by each participant.^ The demographic data were compiled and the taped interviews transcribed for analysis. Costa's "Model of Intellectual Functioning" (1985) was used as a framework for data categories; and finally, data analysis was carried out using Lincoln's and Guba's (1985) refinements of the Constant Comparative Method by Glaser and Strauss (1967).^ Based on the analysis, it was found that the educators value critical thinking. It is taught by linking students' prior knowledge through questioning as connecting (Clinchy, 1989: Belenky, 1986), which leads to the student's praxis (reflection and action) (Freire, 1985). Critical thinking is defined as an unbiased attitude of contemplative ability. Nurse faculty taught critical thinking more adeptly in the clinical laboratory, and they were inefficient in utilizing critical thinking teaching strategies in the classroom.^ This study raised questions related to nurse educators, students and gender. How do female nurse educators perceive the teaching of male students? What impact does Socratic questioning have on the connected knower? And, what impact does connected teaching have on the separate knower? ^