The measurement of critical thinking skills in a selected baccalaureate nursing program

Martha Ann Kokinda, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this study was to measure critical thinking abilities among nursing students in a baccalaureate degree program during the nursing and liberal arts sequences, and to determine if there is a relationship between critical thinking and academic achievement in the nursing major. In a single institution quantitative and qualitative approaches were utilized. The quantitative realm included a nonexperimental ex post facto correlation study; structured informal interviews were conducted as part of the qualitative approach.^ Based on test scores obtained from the four levels of baccalaureate nursing students (n = 49), the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal was utilized as a research tool to test the proficiency of critical thinking.^ Quantitative data were analyzed using the Analysis of Variance to test the significance of differences between mean scores, and the Pearson Product-Moment Correlation to measure the relationship between variables.^ The analysis of variance revealed that was a significant difference in critical thinking skills among baccalaureate nursing students at different levels of enrollment in their educational program. A significant difference was noted in the subtest scores of inference, deduction, and evaluation of arguments among the four levels of students; however, the subtest scores of recognition of assumptions and interpretation revealed no significant differences. The correlation procedure revealed that there was a significant relationship between critical thinking and academic achievement. It was noted that overall, as achievement increased, test scores obtained on the Critical Thinking Appraisal also increased.^ Analysis of the qualitative data obtained from interviews revealed a variety of operational definitions of critical thinking. Similarities occurred between the levels of students in the areas of assessment, analysis, deduction, problem-solving, evaluation and the formulation of nursing care plans. The freshmen, prenursing students spoke of discovering and thinking, application and analysis; the sophomore, junior and senior students discussed critical thinking in terms of nursing terminology which includes many aspects of the problem-solving approach, specifically the "nursing process."^ The findings underlie the importance of critical thinking in professional nursing and the professional standards that uphold its practice setting. The evidence also documents a growing concern for quality in higher education. ^

Subject Area

Education, General|Health Sciences, Nursing|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Kokinda, Martha Ann, "The measurement of critical thinking skills in a selected baccalaureate nursing program" (1989). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9004798.