1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
2Department of Medical Surgical Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, IR Iran
3Trauma Nursing Research Center, Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, IR Iran
Background Critical thinking is one of the most important concepts in the field of education. Despite studies published on nursing students’ critical thinking skills (CTS), some suggest that there is not enough evidence supporting the relationship between content of nursing education programs and nursing students’ CTS. Objectives Given the existing discrepancies, this study aimed to compare the critical thinking skills of freshmen and senior nursing students. Patients and Methods This comparative study was conducted on 150 undergraduate freshmen and senior nursing students in Kashan University of Medical Sciences, during 2012. The students in the first and the last semesters of their study in nursing were entered in the study using the census method. Data were collected using a questionnaire including questions on demographic data and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test, form B. Data analysis was performed using the SPSS v.13 software. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Moreover, independent sample t-test and Spearman and Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used in the data analysis. Results Both the freshmen and senior nursing students had low CTS. The mean critical thinking scores were 11.79 ± 4.80 and 11.21 ± 3.17 for the freshmen and the senior students, respectively (P = 0.511). Moreover, no significant correlation was found between the students’ score in CTS and their age, gender, high school grade point average (GPA), rank in university entrance examination (RUEE) and interest in the nursing profession. Conclusions The students were low skilled in critical thinking and their CTS did not significantly change during their nursing degree. Thus it may be concluded that the nursing education program did not affect the CTS of its students. Longitudinal studies are suggested for assessing nursing students’ critical thinking over time. Moreover, revising the curriculum and preparing nursing educators for implementing innovative and active teaching strategies are suggested.