The effects of two instructional methodologies on the critical thinking skills of undergraduate athletic training students
Numerous methodologies and assessments have been investigated in an effort to explore the nature, measurement, and enhancement of critical thinking (CT) among professionals. Various classroom and clinical techniques have been discussed in the educational literature regarding the augmentation of CT skills. Journal writing, in conjunction with clinical field experiences, has been suggested as an effective professional preparation means of enhancing the critical thought processes among allied health preservice professionals. By reflecting upon an experience in the clinical setting, journal writing has been viewed as an effective method in promoting CT and adding meaning to clinical experiences. Yet little research is being conducted on the infusion of methodological approaches targeting CT enhancement in athletic training professional preparation. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of two different methodological approaches on the CT skills of students enrolled in an undergraduate athletic training practicum. A pre-posttreatment with comparative groups quasi-experimental design was used to determine treatment effects on the targeted variables. Analyses of Covariance (using the pretreatment scores as the covariates) between the groups were conducted on all posttreatment data. Thirty athletic training undergraduate majors enrolled in clinical field based practicum experiences volunteered to participate in either the Method A (journal writing [n = 15]) or Method B (written paper [ n = 15]) treatment groups. All subjects' CT skills were assessed with the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal ( WGCTA ) (Watson & Glaser, 1994) and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST ) (Facione & Facione, 1998) prior to and after treatment. The treatment period lasted approximately 10 weeks for both groups. The Method A subjects completed 12 journal topics specifically designed to promote CT. Method B subjects completed a written paper. Each ANCOVA revealed no significant difference (p > .05) between groups on the composite posttreatment scores of the WGCTA or CCTST , or any of the subscale scores on the CCTST . It was concluded that neither intervention, at the level-intensity administered in this study, was particularly effective in changing the general or global CT skills of athletic training students as assessed. Further research is needed to investigate the efficacy of such training paradigms utilized and relationship between the CT assessments available and the specific CT processes students must use in the profession.