E-learning for Critical Thinking: Using Nominal Focus Group Method to Inform Software Content and Design


1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia



Background Undergraduate nursing students are often confused by multiple understandings of critical thinking. In response to this situation, the Critiique for critical thinking (CCT) project was implemented to provide consistent structured guidance about critical thinking. Objectives This paper introduces Critiique software, describes initial validation of the content of this critical thinking tool and explores wider applications of the Critiique software. Materials and Methods Critiique is flexible, authorable software that guides students step-by-step through critical appraisal of research papers. The spelling of Critiique was deliberate, so as to acquire a unique web domain name and associated logo. The CCT project involved implementation of a modified nominal focus group process with academic staff working together to establish common understandings of critical thinking. Previous work established a consensus about critical thinking in nursing and provided a starting point for the focus groups. The study was conducted at an Australian university campus with the focus group guided by open ended questions. Results Focus group data established categories of content that academic staff identified as important for teaching critical thinking. This emerging focus group data was then used to inform modification of Critiique software so that students had access to consistent and structured guidance in relation to critical thinking and critical appraisal. Conclusions The project succeeded in using focus group data from academics to inform software development while at the same time retaining the benefits of broader philosophical dimensions of critical thinking.