The Correlation Between a General Critical Thinking Skills Test and a Discipline Specific Critical Thinking Test For Associate Degree Nursing Students

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In 1997, NLNAC added critical thinking as a required outcome for accreditation of associate degree nursing (ADN) programs. Until recently general critical thinking tests were the only available standardized critical thinking assessment tools. The emphasis has shifted to discipline specific tools. This concurrent validity study explored the correlation between two critical thinking tests, a general skills test, the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) and a discipline specific test, the Arnett Critical Thinking Outcome Evaluation (CTOE). Both tests are based on the same definition of critical thinking. The CCTST, developed in 1990, covers discipline neutral content in multiple choice items. ... continued below

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Reid, Helen May 2000.

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  • Reid, Helen

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In 1997, NLNAC added critical thinking as a required outcome for accreditation of associate degree nursing (ADN) programs. Until recently general critical thinking tests were the only available standardized critical thinking assessment tools. The emphasis has shifted to discipline specific tools.

This concurrent validity study explored the correlation between two critical thinking tests, a general skills test, the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) and a discipline specific test, the Arnett Critical Thinking Outcome Evaluation (CTOE). Both tests are based on the same definition of critical thinking. The CCTST, developed in 1990, covers discipline neutral content in multiple choice items. The CTOE, a free entry, written response test developed in 1998, assesses critical thinking in nursing situations using a partial credit model.

A convenience sample of 434 sophomore ADN students from 9 programs in Texas completed the demographic survey and critical thinking tests in 1999. The sample was 87.9% female and 74.2% Caucasian, with a mean age of 31, mean GPA of 3.13, mean 3.7 years healthcare employment experience, mean CCTST score of 15.0023 and mean CTOE of 82.69. The sample also included 22.4% current LVNs, 15.7% with prior degrees and 53.5% in the first generation of their family to go to college.

With Pearson correlation, three of four hypotheses concerning correlation between CCTST and CTOE scores were accepted, showing weak but significant correlation. GPA positively correlated but healthcare employment experience, first generation and minority status negatively correlated with CCTST scores. GPA correlated positively with CTOE scores. Stepwise multiple linear regression with CCTST scores retained GPA, healthcare employment experience, prior degree, and first generation in college status.

The significant, positive correlation between CCTST and CTOE scores was weaker than expected. This may be due to the different formats of the tools, or a fundamental difference between a general critical thinking skills test and a discipline specific tool. Critical thinking is highly contextually sensitive and disciplines emphasize skills differently. Both tests may be useful in a critical thinking assessment program since they measure different aspects and contribute to a composite picture of critical thinking. Research should continue on discipline specific tools.

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  • May 2000

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  • Sept. 24, 2007, 10:20 p.m.

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  • April 26, 2016, 4:54 p.m.

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Reid, Helen. The Correlation Between a General Critical Thinking Skills Test and a Discipline Specific Critical Thinking Test For Associate Degree Nursing Students, dissertation, May 2000; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2505/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .