Using root cause analysis to promote critical thinking in final year Bachelor of Midwifery students
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Background Midwives require well developed critical thinking to practice autonomously. However, multiple factors impinge on students' deep learning in the clinical context. Analysis of actual case scenarios using root cause analysis may foster students' critical thinking and application of 'best practice' principles in complex clinical situations. Objective To examine the effectiveness of an innovative teaching strategy involving root cause analysis to develop students' perceptions of their critical thinking abilities. Methods A descriptive, mixed methods design was used. Final 3rd year undergraduate midwifery students (n = 22) worked in teams to complete and present an assessment item based on root cause analysis. The cases were adapted from coroners' reports. After graduation, 17 (77%) students evaluated the course using a standard university assessment tool. In addition 12 (54%) students provided specific feedback on the teaching strategy using a 16-item survey tool based on the domain concepts of Educational Acceptability, Educational Impact, and Preparation for Practice. Survey responses were on a 5-point Likert scale and analysed using descriptive statistics. Open-ended responses were analysed using content analysis. Results The majority of students perceived the course and this teaching strategy positively. The domain mean scores were high for Educational Acceptability (mean = 4.3, SD = .49) and Educational Impact (mean = 4.19, SD = .75) but slightly lower for Preparation for Practice (mean = 3.7, SD = .77). Overall student responses to each item were positive with no item mean less than 3.42. Students found the root cause analysis challenging and time consuming but reported development of critical thinking skills about the complexity of practice, clinical governance and risk management principles. Conclusions Analysing complex real life clinical cases to determine a root cause enhanced midwifery students' perceptions of their critical thinking. Teaching and assessment strategies to promote critical thinking need to be made explicit to students in order to foster ongoing development.
Nurse Education Today
© 2014 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
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