1997 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
CAN RESPIRATORY THERAPY EDUCATION IMPROVE CRITICAL THINKING?
Shelley C. Mishoe, PhD, RRT, Franklin H. Dennison, MEd, RRT, RPFT, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA, and Lynda Thomas-Goodfellow, MBA, RRT, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.
Introduction: The purpose of this study was to determine if a BS Program in Respiratory Therapy improved students' critical thinking (CT) as measured by the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA). The WGCTA is considered to be the best single measure of critical thinking involving the abilities to define the problem, select information for problem solution, recognize stated and unstated assumptions, formulate or select promising hypotheses, and draw valid conclusions. Methodology: A pretest-posttest design was used to evaluate critical thinking at the beginning of the program and prior to graduation. The WGCTA was administered to 72 students at two BS Programs. For one of the programs, we had data for multiple classes. The WGCTA is available as an 80 item test with five subsets on inference, recognition of assumptions, deduction, interpretation, and evaluation of arguments. The instrument has established criterion and construct validity (r=0.55 to 0.75) and reliability including internal consistency (r=0.83), stability of scores over time (r=0.73), and correlation between scores of alternate forms (r=0.73). Participation in this research study was voluntary as approved by the Internal Review Board at each Institution. Program faculty did not know students' WGCTA Scores and were blinded from the study. Data were analyzed using ANOVA on the differences between pretest and posttest scores with level of significance set at 0.05. Pairwise comparisons were made using Tukey's HSD. Findings: We found a significant improvement in critical thinking for the class of 1996 (CT diff.=9.6±12). We found no significant improvement in the pretest (56±8.2) and posttest (53±12.2) scores for the classes from 1993-1995. There were no significant differences in WGCTA scores between groups of students at each program. Conclusions: One conclusion is that the educational changes that we implemented to facilitate problem-based learning (PBL) significantly improved the problem solving aspects of our students' critical thinking. However, we suspect that students may not have taken the test seriously for 1993-1995 since the WGCTA was not a program requirement. In 1996, we stressed more than in the past that students should do their best on the WGCTA. This procedural change may have influenced our results. In order to motivate students in the future, we have modified our research protocol so that the WGCTA is a program requirement, with permission to use the data for research purposes. We believe that this change will improve our ongoing research and increase the validity of our findings to determine if PBL in respiratory therapy can significantly improve critical thinking.