Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Third Advisor

Dr. Donna Smith


Critical thinking, dental hygiene, faculty


This study explores dental hygiene faculty's perceptions regarding the issues surrounding the concept of critical thinking skills integration within Michigan accredited associate degree dental hygiene programs. the primary research goals are to determine faculty understanding of the concept of critical thinking, identify personal and departmental rational and support for integrating critical thinking into the curriculum, describe teaching strategies used to teach critical thinking skills, and identify challenges by incorporating critical thinking skills into the curriculum. Using the Critical Thinking Model developed by Paul and Elder (2005), along with their research-based teaching strategies promoting critical thinking, a qualitative study approach is used to examine the faculties' understanding of critical thinking, as well as the perceived importance of utilizing research-based teaching strategies to promote critical thinking skills.

The participants included 20 dental hygiene faculty members from Michigan accredited associate dental hygiene programs. E-mail questionnaires were completed by participants, and phone interviews were conducted with each participant over a period of six months. A review of program artifacts was conducted. Thematic analysis was used to categorize data.

Data analysis revealed five categories with a total of 11 themes. Faculty generally understand critical thinking, but interpretations vary. They do not use varied teaching strategies to promote critical thinking skills, and find challenges in teaching these to students. Despite challenges, faculty do understand the need to teach critical thinking skills preparing students for the work world. Additionally, this study suggests faculty need development opportunities that have an allied health discipline focus, and that calibration of teaching critical thinking skills is a must. In addition, faculty need time to build critical thinking skills into the curriculum. Overall, this study supports the extant literature in many respects, and adds to the available literature by providing an understanding of how dental hygiene faculty define and teach critical thinking skills within dental hygiene programs.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access