Measuring critical thinking in problem-based learning discourse

Teach Learn Med. 2001 Winter;13(1):27-35. doi: 10.1207/S15328015TLM1301_6.


Background: Critical thinking (CT) is a composite of skills linked to problem-based learning (PBL).

Purposes: This study has 3 purposes: (a) to determine if PBL discourse could be coded for CT, (b) to demonstrate reliable coding, and (c) to determine whether a CT ratio would provide a valid measure to compare 2 PBL groups.

Methods: Using prior research, we refined the code for a content analysis of PBL transcripts. Raters coded 6 hr of transcripts and computed CT ratios for each of the 5 CT stages. Average interrater agreement was 85.5%. CT ratios appeared to differ between 2 PBL groups delivered in 2 modalities.

Results: PBL discourse could be coded following a CT framework. Independent raters reliably applied the code, and the resulting CT ratios detected tenable differences.

Conclusions: This approach could provide useful information about the effect of case modality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational
  • Problem-Based Learning*
  • Thinking*