1. Deck, Michele L. MEd, BSN, RN, FACCE

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I met this creative educator, Dr. Catherine Earl, electronically through e-mail and was impressed with her and her colleagues, Susan Bosold and Marilyn VanderWerf. Their ability to motivate and develop critical thinking skills in nursing students is to be commended. Dr. Earl asks learners to demonstrate their critical thinking skills, knowledge, and emotional connection to patients using a poster creation activity. I asked Catherine to briefly outline this activity in this column. Here it is:



Benefits for Learners

Critical thinking involves knowing how to reason and think creatively, generate and evaluate ideas, and make decisions based on evidence. Critical thinking provides us with the ability to solve problems. The benefits of a poster as a strategy to promote critical thinking are multifaceted. To enhance the critical thinking abilities of senior level nursing students, faculty instituted a poster assignment designed to portray complex patient problems. Through this method, participants were able to demonstrate the ability to:


* assess systematically and comprehensively


* distinguish relevant from irrelevant


* check accuracy and reliability


* identify missing information


* draw valid conclusions and support with evidence


* predict and manage potential problems


* apply the nursing process to develop a treatment plan



Faculty evaluation was based on a total point system; an evaluation tool was used to assess the criteria.


The following list was established for the assignment:


* Present a complex patient problem including the following categories: comorbidity, chronic conditions, enduring vulnerabilities, psychotic conditions, persistent difficulties with social relationships, and deestablishing social environments.


* Be prepared to respond to questions from faculty about your poster related to patient history, identification of the complex problems and ability to analyze, nursing diagnosis, cultural implications, professional appearance of the poster, student's professional appearance.


* Evaluate five of your colleague's posters using the evaluation tool prepared by faculty.



Benefits for the Instructors

Instructors were able to gain a comprehensive view of the students' understanding of complex issues and assess organization, prioritization, communication, time management skills, and problem solving ability in one-to-one sessions with students. Instructors were also able to immediately offer feedback on students' analysis of critical events. At the end of the session, faculty deliberated. The first, second, and third place winners were announced and presented with certificates of award.


I can imagine that seeing the work of all these nursing students made each realize the importance of the individual and unique contributions. Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your idea with all of us. Good luck and enjoy your projects in the future!


Michele L. Deck, MEd, BSN, RN, FACCE