Fostering Deeper Learning through Promoting Reflective Practice and Critical Thinking in Undergraduate Students

In this interactive presentation we will engage the audience in discussion of their experiences related to development of reflective practice and critical thinking with their students. In 2010, the Faculty of Nursing implemented a revised undergraduate curriculum that integrated theory and practice in a non-traditional manner, based on a premise that students improve their reflective practice and critical thinking when they explore their learning experiences in facilitated practice-related discussions. The concepts of reflective practice and critical thinking can be ambiguous and may cause educators to feel overwhelmed and thus reluctant to focus on developing these skills with students. Yet, for effective nursing practice, nursing education needs to prepare nurses to address the complexity of the health of the population (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard and Day 2010) including the ability to engage in both reflective practice and critical thinking. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, we studied the instructors’ understanding of the meaning of reflective practice and critical thinking and the teaching strategies they used to promote the development of these attributes in their students at both the University of Calgary and at Medicine Hat College. We will present the preliminary findings of this study as a basis for the interactive discussion. The intended learning outcomes of the interactive session are for the audience to consider the meaning of critical thinking and reflective practice along with strategies for fostering these attributes in students and discuss how these thoughts resonate with their own definitions and teaching practice.