Beginning nursing students are expected to develop study processes that enable them to learn how to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate course material. The study processes these students currently exhibit is rote memorization to be able to understanding course material. Evidence-based teaching and learning styles developed by educators indicate rote memorization is not an effective process for being able to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. Critical thinking is an acceptable process allowing the students the ability to learn nursing concepts for clinical application and testing. Critical thinking processes allow the "thinker" to engage in critical reasoning to make clinical judgements. Thus, critical thinking is essential in nursing curricula. This study was designed to examine developing critical thinking processes in beginning nursing students and discover the preferred practices educators use to promote critical thinking development.
Researchers and educators agree critical thinking processes affect many facets of nursing and determine development of critical thinking processes begin early in nursing curricula. Bodin (2012) described one facet of how critical thinking affects nursing is at the point of care in the decision-making process. Another facet of nursing critical thinking affects is evidence-based practice. Chan (2013) deemed good critical thinkers, who use of evidence-based practice, create positive work environments affecting job satisfaction, retention rates, work performance, and patient outcomes. Because positive healthcare outcomes are desired, Shoulders, Follett, and Eason (2014) acknowledged nurses alter patient outcomes by adapting critical thinking processes for making precise clinical judgments. Paul (2014) validated how essential critical thinking processes are to provide competent, safe patient care and further proposed promoting the development of critical thinking processes begin early in nursing education.
The researcher is using a qualitative, single-embedded exploratory case study design for an intensive analysis of the perceptions of preferred practices in developing critical thinking processes in nursing students. The theoretical framework being used as the blueprint for the study is constructivism (Yin, 2014). Constructivism organizes learning through basic operating processes of assimilation, accommodation, and construction of information (Candela, 2012). The use of constructivism allows educators to move to a learner-centered approach to learning by transforming passive learners to active learners (Brandon & All, 2010). The researcher is using a purposive sampling. The participants are from two populations: current nursing educators and recently graduated nurses. Data will be collected from focus group interviews. The study is currently in the data collection process.
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