Critical Assumptions: Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking
Journal of Nursing Education
The concept of critical thinking has been featured in nursing literature for the past 20 years. It has been described but not defined by both the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National League for Nursing, although their corresponding accreditation bodies require that critical thinking be included in nursing curricula. In addition, there is no reliable or valid measurement tool for critical thinking ability in nursing. As a result, there is a lack of research support for the assumptions that critical thinking can be learned and that critical thinking ability improves clinical competence. Brookfield suggested that commitments should be made only after a period of critically reflective analysis, during which the congruence between perceptions and reality are examined. In an evidence-based practice profession, we, as nurse educators, need to ask ourselves how we can defend our assumptions that critical thinking can be learned and that critical thinking improves the quality of nursing practice, especially when there is virtually no consensus on a definition.