Conceptions of critical thinking for nursing judgement held by nurse educators : thesis submitted to Massey University, in accordance with the regulations, in partial fulfilment for the degree of Master of Education at College of Education, Massey University
Over the last decade there has been a major shift in nursing education with an emphasis on facilitating students to think critically. Nurses engaged in professional practice encounter, in their every day work, situations requiring multidimensional decision-making. In order to be safe in their practice nurses need to be critical thinkers. The Nursing Council of New Zealand (1999) requires nurses to make sound professional judgement based on research, and reflection, in decision-making and problem solving. In the literature there is no clear definition of critical thinking as it relates to nursing judgement. In recent years there has been a move to broaden the conception of critical thinking from a linear problem solving process to include aspects of the affective domain. If nurse educators are to facilitate the development of critical thinking in students it seems essential that they have a clear understanding of the concept. The purpose of this study was to explore the conceptions of critical thinking for nursing judgement held by a group of nurse educators working in the Health Studies Department of a large city Institute of technology. Methods they used to facilitate the development of critical thinking and measure its achievement in students was also investigate A semi-structured interview was used to explore the nurse educator's conceptions. In addition the nurse educators where asked to discuss students work and critical incidents in clinical performance, which, in their opinion, demonstrated critical thinking. The study revealed that the nurse educators considered that critical thinking included both a rational/analytical component and an intuitive/reflective aspect. They considered critical thinking to be essential for caring nursing practice. The most common means of facilitating critical thinking was dialogue and encouraging reflection on practice through journal writing.