A comparison of problem-based and traditional education on nursing students’ critical thinking dispositions
Determining the critical thinking (CT) levels of students in undergraduate nursing schools is important in terms of establishing the methods of education that should be used. Although there is some evidence that active learning approaches like problem-based learning are effective in developing CT, the findings are inconclusive. This descriptive analytic study compared levels of critical thinking among senior nursing students (N=147) in two educational programs, one of which used a problem-based learning (PBL) model while the other used a traditional model. The California critical thinking disposition inventory (CCTDI) was used as a data collection tool. Comparisons between the groups were made using t-test analysis. There was a significant difference (p<0.05) between the critical thinking disposition scores of the seniors in the PBL school and those in the school implementing the traditional model. Analysis of sub-scale scores showed significant differences in truth-seeking and open-mindedness. These findings add to the evidence that the active and self-directed nature of PBL encourages students' ability to think critically, be tolerant of the ideas of others and evaluate conflicting information before reaching a conclusion.