Critical thinking in a case-based and a traditional nursing education program.
Up to 1998, the Institutes of Nursing in the United Arab Emirates have been using the traditional lecture-based teaching/learning process in their graduate-nursing program. In 1998, however, these Institutes adopted a new approach; namely, the case-based learning (CBL) for the education of their nursing students. This approach emphasizes the use of self-directed and cooperative learning that is supposed to help students increase their critical thinking (CT) level. As the students were experiencing changes in the teaching practices, it was important to determine the effect of the teaching and learning approaches on students' CT abilities, and to describe suggestions needed for improvement. Empirically, very little is known regarding the influence of CBL on a student's CT. The question then remains, as to whether students who have undergone case-based learning, differ significantly in their CT abilities from those who studied in the traditional method. This study investigates the critical thinking skills in relation to two types of nursing educational programs: (a) the traditional teaching and (b) the case-based learning. The professed purpose of the study in hand is to measure and compare the level of critical thinking in participants from each of the two programs. The instrument of measurement guiding this study is the model developed by Facione and Facione (1998). The design has been a comparative descriptive survey. The critical thinking abilities were measured by the CCTST, which was administered to 38 participants from the traditional curriculum and 65 from the case-based learning curriculum who agreed to participate in the study. When the scores were analyzed by using the independent sample 1- test, this study found that, in general, participants from both programs performed badly on the CCTST. Nevertheless, the CBL program participants performed significantly better when compared to the traditional program participants in all aspects of the CCTST.