Enhancing Thinking Ability in Beginning Nursing Students

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Beginning nursing students find themselves overwhelmed by the vast amount of new information they must learn, particularly in fast-paced, associate degree programs. As students step into their nursing education they often leave behind previous ways of thinking and knowing because there seems to be no suitable location for it. In the process, student thinking becomes impoverished and limited. A focus on thinking -- critical, creative, and metacognitive -- can provide a bridge for appropriate integration of previous knowledge with new learning. The central concern of this thesis is the development of classroom activities which use common experiences as a base from which to examine and expand thinking. Emphasis is placed on the ways in which previous experience provides important information about new learning. This focus aids in transference of facts into flexible and usable knowledge. It also creates a place where cultural issues which impact nursing, such as gender, can bubble to the surface and be addressed. Along with specific classroom activities are several design criteria which focus on thinking and guide educators in the development of classroom activities. Blocks to critical and creative thinking are also addressed. And, threaded throughout the work, are a number of "stories" which describe what it is like to be a beginning student nurse.


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