Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

Mary Jo Clark, PhD, RN, Chair; Patricia A. Roth, EdD, RN; Barbara J. Riegel, DNSc, RN


Cognitive development, critical thinking, nursing, nursing school, theoretical model


The goal of nursing education is to educate individuals in such a way that they become self-determining, independent thinkers who are prepared to keep pace with the rapidly changing demands of today's health care system. Nurses must utilize critical thought and reasoned action in clinical practice in order to render state of the art health care for individuals, families, groups, and communities. The purpose of this study was to test a proposed theoretical model of critical thinking and cognitive development. Perry's theory of adult cognitive development and Kataoka-Yahiro and Saylor's Critical Thinking Model for Nursing Judgment guided this research. Data were collected from 233 participants who have been in nursing practice for a minimum of two years or were presently enrolled in graduate nursing education. Multivariate analysis with latent variables was used to test a theoretical model of critical thinking and cognitive development. A two-step approach for testing the hypothesized model was used in this study. The first step involved testing the measurement model by confirmatory factor analysis to determine the relationship among the concepts being investigated. The second step involved testing the structural model by examining the relationships among the latent variables. The results obtained in this study showed that the indicators of the latent variables in the measurement model were not sufficient to measure the constructs. The hypothesis that the model of critical thinking and cognitive development would fit the sample data was not able to be tested. This study did not validate or refute a model of critical thinking and cognitive development. The study did highlight the need for instruments that can measure these constructs in a reliable and valid manner.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons