Critical thinking has been one of the most important concepts and qualities in nursing
Critical thinking has been one of the most important concepts and qualities in nursing. Nursing education aims at developing critical thinking in future nursing professionals. Nursing educators have developed multiple disciplines and subjects in nursing education to improve and develop further those qualities and a variety of studies are attempting to measure critical thinking development and to what extent it influences cognitive and test performance in Associate Degree and Bachelor’s Degree nursing students. The research article by M. Romeo is attempting to analyze quantitative research findings correlating with critical thinking ability and the applicability of critical thinking on standardized tests such as the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The author uses a variety of theoretical definitions of critical thinking and acknowledges the limitations and gaps in current research related to the subject.
The author includes several main points with the first one her key assumptions about critical thinking based on integrative review of published research about the subject. Those assumptions serve to help the author further expand and better formulate her study and outcomes.
The second main point is her data collection, analysis and interpretation. Her literature search includes academic databases and literature. The data interpretation uses methods to analyze critical thinking abilities in the beginning of nursing education and through various stages in the educational process. Those methods provided controversial results in their ability to predict academic success on NCLEX-RN in correlation to critical thinking skills.
Her third main point affects the internal validity of the findings addresses the tools used to measure critical thinking. Those included ‘The California Critical Thinking Skills Test’, ‘The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory’ and “Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal Tool”. None of these tools proved to be highly effective in prediction of student cognitive performance in relation to nursing education and none of these tools were developed with specific goal of measuring nursing students critical thinking and cognitive performances (Akerson, 2001; Gloeckner 2005). Other tools were also used by different researchers which were specifically designed to measure critical thinking ability in nursing students however no attempt was made to correlate the findings with actual NCLEX-RN results.
The author’s fourth main point is regarding the subjects of the study who were nursing students in ADN or BSN programs. The number of the sample sizes of students in different programs varied from 24 to 437 and reflected a nonrandomized convenience samples due to the nature of the independent variable. An important fact to mention is that the of authors of the studies used were limited to one nursing school only in their studies. Those facts affect the generalizability of findings and randomization of the sample.
The fifth main point of the author is to acknowledge the limitations of the current critical thinking measurement tools and to explore the need for further development and more tailored approach for the measurement of critical thinking abilities in correlation with NCLEX-RN results.
I believe that the article is an objective measurement of that specific topic and the author does not try to prove or disprove her thesis. Her hypothesis remains in question in the end of the study and she acknowledges the study limitations in relation to sample probability and generalizability of the findings.
The researcher qualifications for the specific topic and article are credible considering that she is a Family Nurse Practitioner. Her research problem is broad and multifaceted and that affects her ability to complete a study with broadly generalizable results. The study logical consistency is good and there is a clear flow from the topic to the main points, theoretical framework, data analysis and findings of the study. The study operational definitions are clear and understandable by a reader with similar education and experience with the author. Considering the limitations related to sample size and generalizability and the limitations of the critical thinking measurement tools the study does not have high validity and reliability and the author acknowledges those limitations. The author has a good explanation of her methodology and analysis of data. Comparison tables are provided for all the studies that were used and specific findings are addressed. The author conclusion and recommendations acknowledge the need for further studies in the field and addresses the external validity of the study in relation to the generalizability of the findings.
I agree with the findings of the author and even though I personally have an inclination to believe that critical thinking abilities should correlate to success or failure in relation to NCLEX-RN, I am glad to see that the author did not make that conclusion. The recommendations that I have