Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Kit Kacirek

Committee Member

Michael Miller

Second Committee Member

Brent Williams


Health and evironmental scinces, Education, Adult education, Adult learning, Community college, Non traditional learners, Nursing, Self-directed learning


This study was designed to identify and investigate nursing faculty and student perspectives of self-directed learning in a practical nursing program. It also explored the degree to which student's perceptions of self-directed learning exhibited factors consistent with that of critical thinking. This study is important because self-directed learning and its critical thinking elements are essential in providing safe, competent, effective, and efficient nursing care within practice and education. Using an explanatory case study design the practice of self-directed learning within a practical nursing program was examined through the use of: classroom observations, interviews with nursing faculty, nursing students, and document analysis. Data analysis within this study provided insight into the perceptions that exist between instructors and students and it demonstrated the differences between adult students that understand the role self-direction plays within nursing education and those that do not. It can be argued that changes in the classroom interactions between instructors and students within early courses should focus more directly on enhancing learning experiences by providing deeper instruction on core elements of learning how to learn within a classroom setting. In finding that nursing students need better designed and managed opportunities to learn how to think about and care for patients, the study concludes with recommendations for future research in the field of self-directed learning within adult education.