Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Lori Candela

Second Committee Member

Michele Clark

Third Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Fourth Committee Member

Tish Smyer

Number of Pages



Nurse educators are called upon to provide creative, innovative experiences for students in order to prepare nurses to work in complex healthcare settings. As part of this preparation, teaching observational and communication skills is critical for nurses and can directly affect patient outcomes. Visual thinking strategies (VTS) are a teaching method that has been studied in primary education to develop communication and observational skills. VTS holds the possibility to improve these same skills in nursing students, but it has only been studied once with nursing students in a quantitative study. Therefore, this qualitative research study sought to explore how nursing students utilize VTS by answering the following research questions: What meaning does VTS have for nursing students? How do nursing students who have experienced VTS use it in their care of patients? Students at a large Midwest university in a Bachelor of Science program were recruited for participation. Only students who voluntarily participated in a previous VTS experience were invited to participate in a second VTS experience, followed by an interview. Martin Heidegger developed a phenomenological philosophy about the meaning people attach to experiences, which was the philosophical framework for this study. Heideggerian hermeneutics was used to analyze participant transcripts and interpretive summaries were analyzed. Themes of feeling safe in learning and thinking and seeing differently were identified and a literature review was performed to further expand these themes. Also revealed in the findings were themes from the perspective of the researcher; validation, mutual respect, and reformulation of the VTS process into clinical practice. Results are presented in Chapter 5. Analysis of the findings and implications for future research are presented in the final, 6th chapter. Also included in the final chapter is a section on how nurse educators can enact the role of facilitative teaching, a term that came out of the research findings.


Facilitative teaching; Feeling safe in learning; Heideggerian hermeneutics; Nursing – Study and teaching; Nursing education; Thought and thinking; Visual arts in nursing education; Visual learning; Visual thinking strategies


Education | Nursing

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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