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J Prof Nurs. 1997 Jul-Aug;13(4):236-45.

Critical thinking skills and dispositions of baccalaureate nursing students--a conceptual model for evaluation.

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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, School of Nursing 54901, USA.


To date, little has been written on specifically what critical thinking is and what the scores reported on critical thinking instruments actually represent. This lack of specificity provided the impetus to examine critical thinking skills and dispositions of baccalaureate nursing students, to ascertain whether or not a significant difference exists between academic levels, and to ascertain, using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) and the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI), whether a relationship exists between nursing students' critical thinking skills and their critical thinking dispositions. The conceptualization of critical thinking consisting of two dimensions, cognitive skills and affective dispositions, developed by a panel of experts comprised the conceptual framework for this study. A cross-sectional, descriptive, comparative, and correlational study was undertaken in which two instruments, CCTST, Form A, and the CCTDI were administered to a convenience sample of nursing students representing five academic levels. The sample in the statistical analyses comprised 328 students. Results indicated that the total critical thinking mean score for students at each level reflected percentile ranking ranging between 48 and 65 per cent. The mean score for the critical thinking subscale, inference, had the lowest percentile rankings, ranging between 37 and 55 per cent. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistical analysis indicated that students at the junior I level had the highest critical thinking mean scores, and students at the sophomore II level attained the lowest scores, reflecting a significant difference (P < or = .05). ANOVA also indicated a significant difference in the total critical thinking disposition mean scores between students at the junior I and senior I and II levels and those at the sophomore II level (P < or = .0000). Results indicated weak truth-seeking disposition scores among students at all levels. Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient yielded a significant positive relationship between critical thinking skills and critical thinking dispositions (P < or = .01). The conceptual model, as well as its relevancy to the professional standards of Essentials for College and University Education for Professional Nursing (AACN, 1986), is presented. Recommendations are discussed in regard to nursing education, curriculum, and research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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