Facilitating critical thinking within the nursing process framework: A literature review

  • M M Chabeli
Keywords: critical thinking, nursing process, facilitation, clinical nursing education


This article intends to describe how critical thinking of learners can be facilitated or infused in clinical nursing education using the identified core cognitive critical thinking skills, their related sub-skills and the affective dispositions. The desire of the researcher to apply these critical thinking skills in clinical nursing education was in response to the recommendations made by experts in critical thinking who conducted the Delphi research project about the concept analysis of critical thinking (Facione, 1990:6, 13). The recommendations made urge educators to develop programmes and teaching and assessment instruments to facilitate or measure critical thinking using the identified core cognitive thinking skills. Nurses should be critical thinkers because they deal with the lives of patients. They are faced with challenges in their daily practice which require the ability to make rational and critical clinical decisions and also make astute clinical judgment that are logical to solve health related problems. Critical thinking is understood to be purposeful, self-regulatory judgments which result in interpretation, analysis, evaluation and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based (Facione, 1990:2). The core cognitive thinking skills are supported and driven by the identified affective dispositions such as inquisitiveness, analytical thinking, open- and fairmindedness, flexibility, self-confidence, being systematic, truth-seeking and a mature attitude. An exploratory and descriptive approach was used to describe how critical thinking of learners can be facilitated in clinical nursing education. Since critical thinking can not be facilitated in a vacuum, the author used the theoretical framework of critical thinking identified by critical thinking experts in a Delphi study (Facione, 1990:6, 13) within the nursing process framework (Wilkinson, 1992:29) and other relevant literature to demonstrate how critical thinking can be facilitated were used. Content validity of the study is ensured based on the two theoretical frameworks. Recommendations to apply the identified critical thinking skills and the dispositions are made.

Keywords: critical thinking; nursing process; facilitation; clinical nursing education

Health SA Gesondheid Vol. 12 (4) 2007: pp. 69-90

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eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848