Evaluation of tools used to measure critical thinking development in nursing and midwifery undergraduate students: A systematic review
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Background: Well developed critical thinking skills are essential for nursing and midwifery practices. The development of students' higher-order cognitive abilities, such as critical thinking, is also well recognised in nursing and midwifery education. Measurement of critical thinking development is important to demonstrate change over time and effectiveness of teaching strategies. Objective: To evaluate tools designed to measure critical thinking in nursing and midwifery undergraduate students. Data Sources: The following six databases were searched and resulted in the retrieval of 1191 papers: CINAHL, Ovid Medline, ERIC, Informit, PsycINFO and Scopus. Review Methods: After screening for inclusion, each paper was evaluated using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme Tool. Thirty-four studies met the inclusion criteria and quality appraisal. Sixteen different tools that measure critical thinking were reviewed for reliability and validity and extent to which the domains of critical thinking were evident. Results: Sixty percent of studies utilised one of four standardised commercially available measures of critical thinking. Reliability and validity were not consistently reported and there was a variation in reliability across studies that used the same measure. Of the remaining studies using different tools, there was also limited reporting of reliability making it difficult to assess internal consistency and potential applicability of measures across settings. Conclusions: Discipline specific instruments to measure critical thinking in nursing and midwifery are required, specifically tools that measure the application of critical thinking to practise. Given that critical thinking development occurs over an extended period, measurement needs to be repeated and multiple methods of measurement used over time.
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