Online course design for teaching critical thinking

Patricia Schaber, Janet Shanedling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Teaching critical thinking (CT) skills, a goal in higher education, is seldom considered in the primary design of either classroom or online courses, and is even less frequently measured in student learning. In health professionaleducation, CT along with clinical reasoning skills is essential for the development of clinical practitioners. This study, measuring cT skill development in an online theory course, supportsusing a cyclical course design to build higher level processes in student thinking. Eighty-six Masters of Occupational Therapy students in four sections of an occupationbased theory course were evaluated on elements in the Paul and Elder CT Model throughout the course and surveyedfor their perceptions in their ability to think critically at course completion. Results of this study demonstrated that the online theory course design contributed to improving critical thinking skills and student's perceived CT skill development as applicable to their future professionalpractice. In a focusgroup, eight students identified four effective course design features that contributed to their CT skill development: highly structured learning, timely feedback from instructor, repetition of assignments, and active engagement with the material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e9-e14
JournalJournal of allied health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


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