From a Nursing Diploma to a Bachelor’s Degree: Critical Thinking

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


The demands of decision-making in nursing practice require nurses to make sound judgements in a complex and rapidly changing healthcare environment. Critical thinking (CT) is an essential component of the repertoire of skills nurses must develop to meet these changing demands. Findings from studies conducted in developed countries recommend further research to explore educational strategies to teach CT. Nursing education in Kenya is primarily delivered using traditional teacher-centred strategies. Although nursing programmes seek to develop CT skills in nursing graduates, research in Kenya has not yet provided evidence of the learning and application of CT skills in practice. Research that illustrates how CT is learned is essential for curriculum review enabling faculties to develop innovative student-centred teaching strategies. This study illuminates how nurses described CT and their preferred learning strategies for developing CT skills. A qualitative descriptive design was adopted with a purposive sample of seven diploma-bachelor graduates. Using an interview guide, the researchers conducted one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was done to identify themes emerging from the data. Two themes emerged from the data: description of CT, and acquiring CT knowledge. The results of this study demonstrate that CT definition is highly discipline-specific and recommends student-centred strategies as more effective in developing CT skills. The findings indicate that nurses’ ability to engage in CT is promoted when nurse educators use learning strategies that actively engage students in the application of


Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery