The effect of undergraduate nursing education program type on the achievement of critical thinking, field dependent-independent thinking, adaptive style flexibility, and self-esteem

Date of Completion

January 1994


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




Is nursing education preparing graduates with the thinking and leadership abilities expected of nurses, as health care and managed care providers, in the new, emerging health care system? The purpose of this research study was three fold: (1) to explore the relationship between nursing preparatory program types, at the diploma, associate degree, and baccalaureate degree level, and the achievement of critical thinking, field dependent-independent thinking, adaptive style flexibility, and self esteem; (2) to determine if the educational environment influenced the achievement of the educational outcomes; and (3) to determine if there was a difference in this environment between the three program types.^ Using a stratified sampling process, 250 second semester nursing students (130 associate, 54 diploma, and 66 baccalaureate participants) from the three nursing program types in the state of Massachusetts participated in the study. Five standardized instruments were used to assess the five hypotheses related to critical thinking, adaptive style flexibility, field dependent-independent thinking, self esteem, and academic environment. A correlational matrix, three way ANOVA, post hoc t-test, ANCOVA, and regression analysis were used to analyze the hypotheses.^ The study found no differences between the program types with respect to critical thinking, adaptive style flexibility, and the academic environment in scholarliness, vocational preparation, development of personal and social skills, intellectual skills, and science and technology skills. There were differences between the program types, at the baccalaureate level, with respect to field dependent-independent thinking and the academic environment in developing interpersonal skills and general education experiences.^ The majority of participants were adult learners, the nursing curricula of the three program types was more similar than dissimilar because of the influence of the NLN accreditation criteria, and the effect of the nursing licensing exam that is the educational outcome measure for all three programs. The lack of differences across the three program types may have been influenced by these three phenomena. Further research is needed to explore these findings. ^