Family, Child, Adolescent Health (Includes Maternal & Child Health)
Improving Maternal Child Health through Improved Prediction of Critical Thinking in Maternity Nurses
(College of Education (UMD) HDQM Doctoral Student)
To ensure the best maternal newborn health outcomes, critical thinking in nurses is an important goal. However, few studies in nursing have examined the role of the important individual difference factors topic knowledge, individual interest, and general relational reasoning strategies in predicting critical thinking. Most previous studies have used domain-general, standardized measures, with inconsistent results. Moreover, few studies have investigated critical thinking across multiple levels of experience. The major purpose of this study was to examine the degree to which topic knowledge, individual interest, and relational reasoning predict critical thinking in maternity nurses. For this study, 182 maternity nurses were recruited from national nursing listservs explicitly chosen to capture multiple levels of experience from prelicensure to very experienced nurses. The three independent measures included a domain-specific Topic Knowledge Assessment, consisting of 24 short-answer questions, a Professed and Engaged Interest Measure, with 20 questions indicating level of interest and engagement in maternity nursing topics and activities, and the Test of Relational Reasoning, a visuospatial selected response measure with 32 items organized in scales corresponding to four forms of relational reasoning: analogy, anomaly, antithesis, and antinomy. The dependent measure was the Critical Thinking Task in Maternity Nursing, composed of a clinical case study providing cues with follow-up questions relating to nursing care. Key findings included a significant correlation between topic knowledge and individual interest at the prelicensure level. Further, the three individual difference factors explained a significant proportion of variance in critical thinking with a large effect size, with topic knowledge identified as the strongest predictor. Notably, individual interest and relational reasoning, which are not strongly emphasized in nursing education, were identified as significant predictors of critical thinking. The findings suggest that these individual difference factors should be included in future studies of critical thinking in nursing. Implications are discussed.