Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


The Relationship Between Education and Leadership Behaviors in New Graduate Baccalaureate Educated Nurses and New Graduate Associate Degree Educated Nurses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Mark Earley


Using a concurrent mixed method design, this study examined if there was a relationship between the education of nurses and their use of leadership behaviors. A purposive criterion sampling of 7 expert nurse managers from 7 different hospitals in Northwest Ohio was selected for the qualitative strand. Using a semi-structured questionnaire each of the 7 nurse managers was asked to identify behaviors they wanted in their leaders and behaviors they wanted in their staff nurses. Data analysis showed behaviors they wanted in their staff nurses including interpersonal skills, communication, compassion and caring, independent decision-making and critical thinking were similar to those they wanted in leaders. Purposive criterion sampling of 145 new graduate nurses who worked in medical surgical units completed the 40-item Self Assessment Leadership Instrument measuring leadership behaviors on a Likert scale of 0 to 4. A MSN and a PhD nurse ranked each leadership item for complexity. A t-test analysis showed no significant difference in the means of self-reported leadership behaviors by ADN nurses and BSN nurses, however, analysis of the percentage of nurses that reported doing each item more than half the time showed that BSN nurses reported using more complex items than ADN nurses. A second t-test analysis measuring past hospital work experience showed there was no significant difference in the number of leadership behaviors used and the amount of past hospital work experience the nurse had. The leadership behaviors identified by the 7 nurse managers were used to categorize the leadership items on the instrument. Analysis of this data showed that both ADN nurses and BSN nurses used the category compassion and caring the most often and the category of communication the least often. Further analysis of the data showed that BSN nurses reported using more items in the category of critical thinking than ADN nurses. While all nurses use leadership behaviors, communication is not one that is being used often and should be integrated more into the curriculum. Education of nurses does appear to have a positive effect on critical thinking, therefore differentiated practice should be considered for implementation in the hospitals.