Developing critical reflection for professional practice through problem-based learning

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Abstract

Developing critical reflection for professional practice through problem-based learning

Aims. To explore the influence of current learning traditions in nursing on the development of reflection and critical reflection as professional practice skills and to offer suggestions for nursing education that will specifically facilitate the development of critical reflection.

Organizational constructs. Mezirow’s transformative learning theory, Barrows conceptualization of problem-based learning (PBL).

Methods. Integrative literature review of published literature related to nursing, health science education and professional education from 1983–2000.

Findings. Professional education scholars concur that specialized knowledge is clearly essential for professional practice, however, they also suggest that self-consciousness (reflection) and continual self-critique (critical reflection) are crucial to continued competence. While strategies to facilitate reflection have been outlined in the literature, specific strategies to facilitate the development of critical reflection and implications for nursing education are much less clear. Advocates of reflective and critically reflective practice suggest that the development of these abilities should be inextricably linked to professional development and can be developed through active repeated guided practice. In health care, PBL based on constructivism, has been identified as one way to facilitate the development of these skills.

Conclusions. Nursing learners exposed to PBL develop the ability to be reflective and critically reflective in their learning and acquire the knowledge and skill within the discipline of nursing by encountering key professional practice situations as the stimulus and focus of their classroom learning. The learners’ ability to be both reflective and critically reflective in their learning is developed by critical questioning of the faculty tutor during situational analysis, learning need determination, application of knowledge, critique of resources and personal problem-solving processes, and summarization of what was learned.

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