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Nurse Educ Today. 1998 May;18(4):281-92.

Facilitating the process of critical thinking for nursing.

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Wesley Gardens Aged Care Centre, Belrose, NSW, Australia.


An exploratory study was conducted during 1995 to examine the degree to which critical thinking was encouraged in nursing education throughout New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The study identified whether a sample of graduate nurses and nurse educators at 12 faculties of nursing in NSW shared similar ideas about what critical thinking entails, the best ways in which to develop critical thinking processes and whether critical thinking is a reasonable way for nurses to achieve skilled and effective nursing interventions. The findings indicate that both nursing students and nurse educators favour the facilitation of critical thinking for nursing for very practical reasons. These refer to improving professional standards of practice, stimulating inquiry and promoting sound reasoning in practice, as well as contributing to personal and professional development. Study participants were found to favour a variety of teaching and learning strategies for critical thinking, and this finding is the focus for this discussion paper. The majority of participants stated that nurses would perhaps be better able to abstract principles of thinking from the specific contexts in which they are practised. Strategies found effective for nursing practice included a variety of approaches: direct learning of skills that contribute to critical thinking, such as analysis; infusion, or integration of critical thinking in all areas of learning; and learning to think critically within distinct disciplines of thought. Analysis of the findings, therefore, suggests that critical thinking is thought to be an important component of nursing practice and that in nursing it is a complex activity, requiring a combination of dispositions, abilities and approaches that can be developed by drawing on a range of learning strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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