Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Nancy Evans


Critical thinking is an expected learning outcome for baccalaureate nursing students. Previous studies regarding critical thinking have shown mixed results related to growth over time in critical thinking abilities, and a lack of consensus among nurse educators regarding the definition of critical thinking. Also, in the past, NLNAC has been the sole accreditor of baccalaureate nursing programs; therefore, no previous studies have related aspects of critical thinking to accreditation affiliation.;The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship of definitions of critical thinking and the use of critical thinking measurement tools with accreditation affiliation in baccalaureate nursing programs. In addition, other aspects of the programs, including program type, other nursing degrees offered, public versus private status, membership in professional nursing organizations, contributing factors towards selection of an accrediting agency, and geographical accreditation region of the program were investigated to determine which characteristics are associated with their selection of accrediting agencies.;A sample of 330 baccalaureate nursing programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), or both was sent a survey prepared and piloted by the researcher. One hundred fifty-four surveys were returned; 153 were usable surveys, for a response rate of 46%.;Findings indicated that there were significant relationships between accreditation affiliation and membership in professional nursing organizations and between accreditation affiliation and major contributing factors used to select accrediting agencies. No relationship was noted between accreditation affiliation and type of baccalaureate nursing program, other degrees offered, public or private status, geographical accrediting region, extent of agreement with selected definitions of critical thinking, or types of tools used to assess critical thinking. Additional significant findings indicated there is a difference among factors contributing to selection of an accrediting agency, there is a relationship between types of tools used to assess critical thinking and definitions of critical thinking, and there is a relationship between types of tools used to assess critical thinking and reports of growth in critical thinking abilities. Other findings indicated there is no consensus among nursing programs regarding definitions of critical thinking, there is no agreement overall regarding tool types, and there is no reported growth in critical thinking over time among baccalaureate nursing programs.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Joan McCleish



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121 pages