Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Gunapala Edirisooriya

Committee Members

Marjorie King, Terrence Tollefson, Russel West


Teaching critical thinking is a national education goal. The ability to think critically is considered an essential skill of nursing graduates and is a necessary component of competent nursing practice. Therefore, nursing programs must address critical thinking for accreditation. The literature reports that teachers in all areas of education are having difficulties infusing critical thinking teaching strategies into their current teaching practices and critical thinking is lacking in new nursing graduates. This research study sought to identify barriers to the implementation of critical thinking teaching strategies as perceived by nursing faculty in generic, BSN programs in Tennessee. Data were collected by a designed survey mailed to all nursing faculty in Tennessee who were currently teaching generic, BSN students. A final response rate of 72% was obtained. Based upon a comprehensive review of the literature, an instrument was constructed to elicit responses on attitudes and beliefs regarding the teaching of critical thinking and demographics of nurse educators. A pilot test was conducted for the purpose of refining the survey. Reliability of each of the eight sub-scales was tested using Cronbach's alpha with coefficients ranging from .51 to .83. The study found that students' attitudes and expectations, as perceived by these nurse educators, represented the single greatest barrier to the implementation of critical thinking teaching strategies followed by time constraints and the perceived need to teach for content coverage. Likewise, these nurse educators reported that the importance and relevance of teaching for critical thinking was the least barrier to teaching for thinking. Contrary to the literature, the results showed that these nurse educators felt confident in their abilities to teach for critical thinking but perceive a need for more education in this area. Significant differences were found among nurse educators with different levels of education (MSN, PhD, EdD) on the perceptions of barriers to teaching for critical thinking. The MSN respondents reported the highest barriers, followed by the PhD respondents and then the EdD respondents who reported the least barriers to teaching for thinking. Similarly, significant differences were found among the nurse educators based upon the educational activities engaged in for the purpose of developing skills in teaching for critical thinking. There was a consistent inverse relationship between the number of educational activities engaged in and the perceived barriers to the teaching for critical thinking; the respondents who reported the fewest activities reported the highest barriers and the respondents who reported the most educational activities had the fewest perceived barriers. The results of this study add to the body of knowledge regarding the barriers nursing faculty encounter when teaching for the promotion of students' critical thinking. The findings are useful for nursing programs when deciding how best to facilitate faculty development in this area. This study suggests that targeting students' attitudes and beliefs about new ways of teaching and learning as well as granting more time and educational opportunities for faculty to develop in this area may be the most productive ways educational administrators can support and encourage faculty to teach for critical thinking.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.