Critical Thinking: Student Dispositions
Fritsch, Fay L.
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The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has identified critical thinking as an essential element of baccalaureate nursing framework and curriculum (2008). The expectation of baccalaureate-prepared nurses is a competency of inquiry, analysis, critical thinking, and communication within a variety of methods including written and oral communication. The purpose of this study was (a) to identify the critical thinking disposition of baccalaureate degree nursing students, (b) to compare the critical thinking disposition of first semester baccalaureate degree nursing students with final semester baccalaureate degree nursing students, and (c) to correlate student critical thinking disposition with selected demographic variables. Benner's Novice to Expert theory provided the theoretical framework for this descriptive, comparative study. The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory measured the criterion variable of critical thinking and the seven subscales: truth-seeking, open-mindedness, analyticity, systematicity, critical thinking self-confidence, inquisitiveness, and maturity. The research design for this study was a descriptive, comparative design. The descriptive design was used to describe the critical thinking disposition of first and final semester baccalaureate degree nursing students. The comparative design was utilized to compare the critical thinking disposition of first semester to final semester baccalaureate degree nursing students. The sample consisted of 64 students (34 Sophomore II students and 30 Senior II students) in the nursing program. Results indicate that there is not a statistically significant difference in critical thinking disposition between Sophomore II and Senior II students (t=1.96, ns; d=.50). However, there was an increase in the mean disposition between the Sophomore II students (M=311.15) and the Senior II students (M=325.03). There are serious implications for patients' well-being, as well as significant legal liability for nurses who fail to master critical thinking. Nurses must manage risk, as well as safe practice, for themselves and their patients. The rapidly changing world of healthcare increasingly demands nurses to be proficient in managing complex information, technology, and compounding patient disease states. Nursing students must rise to this challenge.