Early Identification of Transformation in the Proficiency Level of Critical Thinking: In the Associate Degree Nursing Student

Early Identification of Transformation in the Proficiency Level of Critical Thinking: In the Associate Degree Nursing Student

Velmarie King Swing
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5490-5.ch009
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Critical Thinking (CT) in the nurse graduate continues to be a topic of concern in the academic and acute care settings. Few studies focus on early evaluation of Critical Thinking Skills (CTS). The purpose of this chapter is to show how the non-experimental, explanatory, quantitative study, the Kaplan CTIT, was employed to determine if a transformation in the level of CTS occurs within the first semester of associate degree nursing students. Participants completed the pretest in the first three weeks of classes. Posttests were given after course finals. A significant transformation in the level of CT occurred. The estimated change in CT test scores was 2.04, with 95% confidence. Implications for early measurement of CTS in nursing programs reveals if teaching methodology is providing the necessary input for developing CTS or if evaluation and changes are needed.
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Paul and Elder (2012) discussed the history and the roots of critical thinking, which was traced back to Socrates. Socrates challenged others by asking inquisitive questions in the attempt to prove or disprove individual claims of knowledge. It is important for the nursing student to understand the need for critical thinking and to have continuous growth of critical thinking in order to become a safe, effective nurse (Romeo, 2010). The Oklahoma Board of Nursing (Oklahoma, 2011) requires nursing programs to provide lecture, labs, and clinical experiences that facilitate the growth of or enhancement of CTS for the enrolled nursing student. While nursing programs provide the experiences as dictated by the nursing board, few new graduates adequately think critically in the acute care setting, despite the students’ successful completion of the program and National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to achieve licensure (Oermann et al., 2010).

Ensuring adequate growth in CTS may also affect student ability to provide safe, effective patient care (Romeo, 2010). Insufficient CTS may cause the new graduate nurse to miss an assessment and the identification of signs and symptoms regarding disease processes, which can further a hospital stay or even result in death. Evaluating the students’ ability to think critically while in the nursing program continues to be problematic (Deschênes, Charlin, Gagnon, & Goudreau, 2011). In a 2000 study, Diede, McNish, and Coose indicated that new graduates barely met competencies required for the job according to nursing directors surveyed. The new graduate nurse continues to fall short in CTS despite the available studies that address the importance of having the ability to think critically.

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