Critical Thinking Related to Nursing
In researching the process of critical thinking, you find many definitions and
explanations. An example of the definition of critical thinking (Shriven & Paul) is the
intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying,
analyzing, synthesizing, and/or generated by, observation, experience, reflection,
reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
In her article, Learning to Think Like a Nurse, Pam DiVito-Thomas, PhD, RN
(2005) acknowledges the various definitions of critical thinking. She concedes that
"nearly all definitions of critical thinking emphasize logic and reasoning". The basis for
this article was related to a study conducted by Ms. DiVito-Thomas, involving nursing
students; in an effort to determine which teaching and learning strategies they felt would
help them develop better critical thinking skills. She mentions a theory (Knowles) that
learning occurs by putting "concepts together in meaningful ways based on former
learning experience". Utilizing this theory, Novak suggests that learning occurs by a
process called "concept mapping". Concept mapping is a visual representation of how
gathered information is interrelated and how that, in turn, leads to the acquisition of
knowledge. Below is a wonderful example of mind or concept mapping as it relates to
critical thinking in nursing (University of New Mexico [UNM], School of Nursing):
Critical Thinking 3
Using this map, the student nurse draws a map listing patient problems and how these problems relate to one another. The student is then able to visualize the relationships between "medical diagnoses, nursing assessment data, diagnostic test results, nursing diagnoses and collaborative...
References: Scriven, M. & Paul, R. The National Council for Excellence in Critical
Thinking Instruction. The Critical Thinking Community.
www.criticalthinking.org Retrieved 8/10/05.
DiVito-Thomas, Pam PhD, RN (May/June 2005). Nursing student stories
on learning how to think like a nurse. Nurse Educator, 30(3), 133-
136. Lippincott Williams & Wilkens, Inc.
University of New Mexico, College of Nursing http://hsc.unm.edu/consg/conct/Mind%20Map.htm Retrieved 8/20/05
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