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Keywords:

  • critical thinking;
  • California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory;
  • Chinese;
  • Australian;
  • nursing students;
  • cultural variation

Background. Critical thinking is frequently cited as a desirable professional attribute and a highly valued educational outcome. Despite the abundance of literature on the subject, validation of the critical thinking construct in different cultural populations is under-researched.

Aim. The purpose of this study was to compare the critical thinking dispositions of Hong Kong Chinese and Australian nursing students.

Design. A cross-sectional design was used with two groups of nursing students in two universities, one in Hong Kong and the other in Australia. Critical thinking disposition was measured using the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI).

Results. Significant differences were detected in critical thinking disposition between the two groups of students (P < 0·05), with the Hong Kong Chinese students failing to show a positive disposition toward critical thinking on the CCTDI total mean score, while the Australian students showed a positive disposition. Similarities and differences were also noted between the groups in CCTDI subscale mean scores.

Conclusion. The findings contribute to knowledge of critical thinking by demonstrating differences and similarities between Hong Kong Chinese and Australian nursing students. The study raises questions about the effects of institutional, educational, professional and cultural factors on the disposition to think critically.