Critical Thinking Development: Using Student Narrative to Understand Women's Evolving Role in the Birth Experience

Various methods have been used to stimulate critical thinking in undergraduate nursing students. This study has a dual focus; the first section examines the perceived relevance of a pedagogical critical thinking tool, a maternal interview assignment. Constructivist research inquiry was used to survey 54 students' perception of the effectiveness of the assignment. The results of the study indicate that the students believe the maternal interview critical thinking assignment is relevant for learning and developing patient interview skills. The second section of the study uses a grounded theory approach to present the birth stories from 25 women who participated in the maternal interview with the students. Through eight required elements in the context of the birth experience a number of common themes emerged. Three factors negatively contributed to the experience, and two positively contributed to the experience. The negative factors are unbearable pain, a detached and task oriented nurse, and interference with the natural process. The positive factors are an emotionally supportive nurse and a supportive family presence. The overarching theme identified throughout the narratives was that "joy overcomes all". The results of this section of the study indicate that nurses need to be aware of the important role that they have in the birth experience of women. The Maternal Interview assignment is one critical thinking method that supports the development of critical thinking in nursing students.