Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Nursing (M.S.N.)

Degree Program

College of Nursing

First Advisor

Emily Droste-Bielak

Second Advisor

Kay Setter Kline

Third Advisor

John Wissink


The purpose of this descriptive, correlational study was to compare the critical thinking and clinical judgement skills of senior nursing students at two educational levels. A convenience sample of 34 students in the Midwest was obtained during the spring semester before graduation (n = 19 baccalaureate, n = 15 associate). The framework for the study was decision theory. Critical thinking ability was measured by the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. Clinical judgement was determined by the ability to recognize cues, provide nursing diagnosis, interventions and corresponding rationale after viewing five video vignettes produced by Performance Management Services. Demographic data was obtained to determine if there were any relationships with either critical thinking or clinical judgement ability. Findings of t-tests indicated that there was no difference in critical thinking ability or clinical judgement skills between baccalaureate and associate senior nursing students. Using Pearson's r correlation coefficient, a positive correlation was found between critical thinking ability and clinical judgement. A positive correlation was also found between grade point average and critical thinking ability as well as clinical judgement. A larger sample as well as a longitudinal and qualitative study may provide more predictive and generalizable data.


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