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  1. Di Vito-Thomas, Pam MS, RN


Continuing education and staff development specialists often collaborate with nursing faculty and managers in evaluating the critical thinking behaviors of new staff and nursing students in clinical judgments. The results of this phenomenological study provide insights into specific objective criteria of critical thinking behaviors of domain-specific knowledge, critical reflection, critical thinking competency, intellectual virtues, and action involvement and improvement.


In every healthcare environment nurses are required to think more globally about complex issues such as social responsibilities, life options, and expanding employment. The quality of thinking has become crucial for current nursing practice because critical thinking is becoming the benchmark of professional competence and student performance (Gendrop & Eisenhauer, 1996; Maynard, 1996; Sedlak, 1997). Often, continuing education and staff development specialists (CESDS) support managers, clinicians, and nursing students as role models of critical thinking in the educational processes. Also, an enormous amount of support is provided to nursing faculty when staff development educators and clinicians collaborate to evaluate the critical thinking behaviors demonstrated by nursing students in clinical judgments.


CESDS are uniquely positioned to demonstrate and evaluate the critical thinking skills evidenced in daily practice. Unfortunately, clinical judgment evaluation measures by CESDS and clinicians have been problematic because of the lack of valid and reliable measures of critical thinking. On many occasions evaluators may be using guesswork, functioning in isolation, and relying on experience, instinct, and personalized perceptions rather than on evidence. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the critical thinking behaviors demonstrated by nursing students in clinical judgments as experienced by nurse educators and nurse clinicians.