The findings suggest that any single definition of critical thinking in the health professions will be inherently contentious and, we argue, should be.
Such debates, when made visible to educators and trainees, can be highly productive.‘Critical thinking’ is a term commonly used across health professional education, though there is little agreement on what this means in the literature or in practice.
We argue that diversity in conceptions of critical thinking can allow educators to express unique and often divergent beliefs about what ‘good thinking’ means in their contexts.].
Last, still others have argued that critical thinking is discipline or subject-specific, meaning that critical thinking is not universal, but does have a relatively stable meaning within different disciplines [have led to agreement, suggesting that each of these perspectives offers, at best, a partial explanation for the persistence of disagreements.
While each conception had distinct features, the particular conceptions of critical thinking espoused by individual participants were not stable within or between interviews.
Multiple conceptions of critical thinking likely offer educators the ability to express diverse beliefs about what ‘good thinking’ means in variable contexts.
The senior author was trained in cognitive psychology, and contributed to the questioning of results and discussion required to ensure this reflexivity.
The first author’s dissertation supervisor also provided support in this way by questioning assumptions made during the initial stages of this work.
The purposive sample includes four educators from each of four diverse health professional programs ( = 16 in total): medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work.
All participants self-identified as being actively involved in teaching in their professional program and all were formally affiliated with either the University of Alberta (Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy) or the University of Calgary (Social Work).