Strategy to assess, develop, and evaluate critical thinking.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)


To care for patients with complex health problems, nurses need a strong knowledge base and critical thinking skills. Critical thinking enables the nurse to process and analyze information, solve clinical problems, and decide on actions to take. Teaching and evaluation, however, often focus on memorizing facts and details about clinical care rather than on critical thinking.


Context-dependent test items are designed to evaluate critical thinking and may be used in orientation, in competency testing, and by preceptors and others who work with beginning nurses for formative evaluation and discussions with them. A context-dependent item presents introductory material to analyze and determine a course of action. The introductory material may be a clinical scenario, an issue nurses might face in their practice, patient data, graphs or flow sheets, and other types of material for analysis. Carefully planned questions for assessing critical thinking are then asked.


The article describes how to develop and use context-dependent items in nursing continuing education.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Oermann, M; Truesdell, S; Ziolkowski, L

Published Date

  • July 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 31 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 155 - 160

PubMed ID

  • 11261158

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-2472

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-0124

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3928/0022-0124-20000701-06


  • eng