Measuring critical thinking in newly licensed registered nurses

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University of Alabama Libraries

A national conversation is stirring in the United States about mandating residency programs of newly-licensed nurses as findings indicate that newly-licensed registered nurses are not prepared to make appropriate patient care decisions. Even with many commercial instruments available on the market for outcome measurements, accurately assessing the development of critical thinking (CT) remains elusive and difficult. The purpose of the non-experimental, quantitative research study was to 1) assess the development and progression of CT in the newly-licensed registered nurses (NLRN) orientation program participants; 2) investigate differences in the development and progression of CT between the NLRN orientation program participants and the population involved in the development of the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA); 3) assess for differences in the development of critical thinking (in participants) as it relates age and degree status; and 4) determine if there are differences in CT between cohort WGCTA scores of those participants in the original versus the revised version of the NLRN orientation. The NLRN orientation used for the study, known as the Span Program, offers curriculum that is based on Patricia Benner’s landmark nurse “novice to expert” theory (1982, p. 402). The “novice to expert” theory supports the Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) conceptual framework by David Kolb (1984), which is implemented throughout the study. Data analysis utilized the SPSS version 22.0 software to calculate both descriptive and inferential statistics. The researcher was not able to conclusively establish concrete relationships with the aggregate WGCTA-FS scores of the dissertation participants and the introduction or intervention of the Span Program of orientation. The PI was not able to establish significant differences between the WGCTA-FS charter study (i.e., post development short form of the WGCTA) group and the dissertation study. With respect to whether degree status or age has any influence or correlation to WGCTA-FS outcomes, the researcher was able to conduct analysis that suggested a positive correlation with greater probability between degree status and WGCTA-FS scores but there is no statistical significance between WGCTA-FS scores and age. Findings by the PI indicated that there was no differences in critical thinking between the original 2015 Span Program participants and revised 2016 orientation program participants for NLRNs at the host institution. It was the hope of the researcher that the study produced results that can make a difference in how nurse educators measure CT future NLRN orientation programs.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Nursing, Educational evaluation, Educational leadership