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J Educ Health Promot. 2013 Jan 31;2:5. doi: 10.4103/2277-9531.106644. eCollection 2013.

Assessing critical thinking in medical sciences students in two sequential semesters: Does it improve?

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Department of Educational Sciences, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.



Critical thinking is an important outcome criterion of higher education in any discipline. Medical and paramedical students always encounter with many new problems in clinical settings and medicinal laboratory, and critical thinking is an essential skill in obtaining a better approach for problem solving. We performed a pre-and post-test to evaluate the change of critical thinking skills in medical sciences students who enrolled in Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran during the academic years 2008-2010.


In a longitudinal design study, the critical thinking skills were compared in medical sciences students in two sequential semesters using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test. The test is divided into two parts (parts 1 and 2), including 17 items in each part. Based on proportional stratified sampling, a groups of students (group 1, n=159) were selected from the university population, who enrolled in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and rehabilitation colleges. The students in group 1 were asked to complete the part 1 of the test (phase I). After one semester, another group (group 2, n=138) from the same population was randomly selected, and they were asked to complete the part two (phase II). The students' demographic data also were recorded. The California critical thinking skills test was translated and it validity and reliability were approved before.


No significant difference was observed between the two groups in the demographic data. The students critical thinking scores in phase II significantly reduced in comparison with phase 1 (p<0.05). The phase II scores in subdivisions of analysis, inference, inductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning also failed to demonstrate improvement.


It seems curriculum reform is necessary to improve the students' critical thinking.


Critical thinking; curriculum; higher education; medical sciences

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