Heidi Gonzalez earns Ed. D.

Congratulations to Dr. Heidi Gonzalez! She recently received her Ed.D. Her dissertation was titled “Explanatory Sequential Examination of Senior Baccalaureate Nursing Students’ Critical Thinking after Participating in a Skills Fair Intervention”

When asked for a brief synopsis of her research, Dr. Gonzalez provided the following information:

A major concern in the nursing profession is the lack of CT among student nurses and new graduates.  This lack of CT impacts the decision-making of novice nurses and directly effects patient care and safety.  Critical thinking is considered an essential competency of baccalaureate nursing education and practice, but there is a significant gap between education and practice. Transforming nursing education to develop CT skills and promote EBP is essential to bridging the gap between education and practice. Active learning strategies allow students to make connections with their knowledge and apply it to clinical practice (Baker, 2011; Russell et al., 2007).  The Skills Fair intervention in this study utilized the principles of active learning strategies and evidence-based practice to promote CT using Constructivist Learning Theory.
The purpose of my mixed-methods case study was to investigate the effects of the innovative Skills Fair intervention on senior baccalaureate nursing students’ achievement and their perceptions of CT skills development.  The results show there was no significant difference in the achievement scores on the KCTIT posttest between students who participated in the Skills Fair intervention and those who did not.  However, many of the studies available highlighted the importance of active learning strategies like the Skills Fair intervention to promote CT.  Internal and external factors impacting the development of CT during the Skills Fair were identified including: confidence and anxiety levels, attitude, age, experience and practice, faculty involvement, positive learning environment, and faculty prompts.  The participants perceived their CT was reinforced after the Skills Fair intervention and believed the Skills Fair intervention was an effective CT skills developmental strategy as it developed alternative thinking and thinking before doing. 

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