Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

CONCEPT MAPPING: Does It Improve Critical Thinking Ability in Practical Nursing Students?

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

CONCEPT MAPPING: Does It Improve Critical Thinking Ability in Practical Nursing Students?

Article excerpt


ABSTRACT Critical thinking is an essential skill taught at all levels of nursing education. This article reports on a study designed to determine if concept mapping is superior to traditional care planning as a teaching method for practical nursing students. Specifically, the study evaluated the effects of concept mapping as a teaching methodology on the development of critical thinking skills. A control group consisting of students taught through the traditional methodology was compared to two groups of students taught with concept mapping. Data were collected using the National League for Nursing Critical Thinking in Clinical Nursing Practice/PN Examination. Results indicated that students who were taught the nursing process using the traditional care planning method scored statistically significantly better on the examination than students taught with the concept mapping method.

Key Words Critical Thinking - Concept Mapping - Practical Nursing Education - Teaching Methods - Care Planning

MANY PROFESSIONAL NURSING PROGRAMS HAVE EMBRACED CONCEPT MAPPING AS THE INSTRUCTIONAL METHOD OF CHOICE IN TEACHING NURSING PROCESS AND IMPROVING CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS. The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to determine if concept mapping (CM) is more effective in teaching critical thinking skills for practical nursing students than traditional linear care plans. CM was introduced in this practical nursing program, housed in a community college located on two campuses, beginning with the class of 2005.

Traditionally, nursing students in this program were taught to process client data and to plan care using traditional nursing care plans (TCP). Students reported spending hours completing the nursing worksheet in which they recorded client data in compartmentalized sections. Faculty recognized that students had difficulty seeing relationships within the data they had collected.

The decision to incorporate CM into the practical nursing curriculum was made despite a lack of published research on the impact of CM on critical thinking in practical nursing students. It has been suggested that CM is superior to TCP as a strategy to improve critical thinking (Daley, Shaw, Balistrieri, Glasenapp, & Placentine, 1999; Wheeler & Collins, 2003), but only one study was found that examined the effects of concept mapping on practical nursing students (Roop, 2002).

Faculty at the two campuses were introduced to CM during a presentation on concept maps that incorporated a hierarchical organization with connections, interconnections, and linkages (Novak 2004; Novak & Canas, 2008; Novak & Gowin, 1984). The client, represented by a human figure, was placed at the center of the map to visually represent the importance of client-centered care. In order to control for instructor individuality, faculty agreed to utilize the same educational presentation and teaching methodology at each of the two campuses. Faculty were also trained on evaluating and scoring the students' worksheets, and a standard rubric was developed for the faculty and students.

The central focus of this study was the relationship between teaching strategy and level of critical thinking skill mastery. Graduates of the class of 2004, who had been taught with the traditional methodology, were compared with graduates of two classes who had been taught using CM. The specific research question addressed in this study was: Does concept mapping improve critical thinking skills in practical nursing students when compared to traditional linear care planning?

Review of the Literature Critical thinking, fundamental to the nursing process and clinical decision-making, is conceptually defined as the ability to collect, interpret, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate data. According to Staib (2003), critical thinkers in nursing practice the cognitive skills of analyzing, applying standards, discriminating, information seeking, logical reasoning, predicting, and transforming knowledge. …

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