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Keywords:

  • creativity;
  • critical thinking;
  • focus group interview;
  • problem-based learning;
  • qualitative study

Aims and objectives

To explore students' attitude towards problem-based learning, creativity and critical thinking, and the relevance to nursing education and clinical practice.

Background

Critical thinking and creativity are crucial in nursing education. The teaching approach of problem-based learning can help to reduce the difficulties of nurturing problem-solving skills. However, there is little in the literature on how to improve the effectiveness of a problem-based learning lesson by designing appropriate and innovative activities such as composing songs, writing poems and using role plays.

Design

Exploratory qualitative study.

Methods

A sample of 100 students participated in seven semi-structured focus groups, of which two were innovative groups and five were standard groups, adopting three activities in problem-based learning, namely composing songs, writing poems and performing role plays. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

There are three themes extracted from the conversations: ‘students’ perceptions of problem-based learning', ‘students’ perceptions of creative thinking' and ‘students’ perceptions of critical thinking'. Participants generally agreed that critical thinking is more important than creativity in problem-based learning and clinical practice. Participants in the innovative groups perceived a significantly closer relationship between critical thinking and nursing care, and between creativity and nursing care than the standard groups.

Conclusions

Both standard and innovative groups agreed that problem-based learning could significantly increase their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Further, by composing songs, writing poems and using role plays, the innovative groups had significantly increased their awareness of the relationship among critical thinking, creativity and nursing care.

Relevance to clinical practice

Nursing educators should include more types of creative activities than it often does in conventional problem-based learning classes. The results could help nurse educators design an appropriate curriculum for preparing professional and ethical nurses for future clinical practice.