The Effect of Reflective Writing Interventions on Critical Thinking Skills

Monday, 30 July 2012

Jessica L. Naber, RN, MSN, PhD
School of Nursing, Murray State University, Murray, KY

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to verbalize understanding of writing as a tool for developing critical thinking skills in baccalaureate nursing students.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to implement a reflective writing intervention in his/her nursing courses, both face-to-face and online.

Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to explain the results of a study that tested the effectiveness of a reflective writing intervention, based on Paul’s model of critical thinking, for improving critical thinking skills in baccalaureate nursing students during an eight-week clinical rotation.  

Methods: An experimental, pretest-posttest design was used. The sample was a randomly assigned convenience sample of 70 baccalaureate nursing students in their fourth semester of nursing school at two state-supported universities. All participants were enrolled in an adult-health nursing course and were completing clinical learning experiences in acute care facilities. Both groups completed two critical thinking instruments, the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) and the California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI), and then the experimental group completed a reflective writing intervention consisting of six specific critical-thinking oriented writing assignments. Both groups then completed the two tests again.

Results: Results showed a significant increase (p=0.03) on the truthseeking subscale on the CCTDI for the experimental group when compared to the control group. There were also some other slight differences on subscale scores that could be accounted for by the institution, age, ethnicity, and health care experience differences between the control and experimental groups.

Conclusion: The six reflective writing interventions were innovative and convenient in the format of administration, completion, and submission. Students were satisfied with the intervention; students verbalized that the intervention helped them to think critically about their clinical experiences. The reflective writing interventions will be used in nursing courses and programs to increase critical thinking skills.