Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



Sciences are critical in nursing education to aid the nurse in understanding health and disease processes. Accrediting bodies for nursing education have emphasized that educators teach in ways that encourage critical thinking and, therefore, produce safe-practicing, competent nurse graduates. Nursing care plans best reflect nursing education’s central goals. Because of its longevity of use and familiarity, in this study, the nursing care plan was used as a proxy for nursing science’s learning objectives. This research was a study of the nursing care plan as an indicator for change in nursing science education in the United States to determine if change has occurred, using historical research methods supplemented with phenomenological data analysis. Because historical nursing care plan archives were non-existent, historical nursing textbooks were used to track the care plan’s evolution. Key findings included: (a) there is a “disconnect” between care plan instructional goals and their application in real-world nursing; (b) care plans open a new window for science education research on the state of nursing instruction; (c) nursing care plans were shown to have emphasized higher order thinking skills for over 80 years; and (d) the nursing care plan has been expanded from one concentrated patient study to three with a subsequent loss of student focus.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Wandersee, James



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Education Commons