The Experience of African Students Studying Nursing in the United States in Relation to Their Use of Critical Thinking




Tyson, Donald Lee

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This qualitative study explores the critical thinking experiences of African nursing students enrolled in several universities in the U.S. Using a semi-structured interview approach, twelve African students discussed their experiences using and learning a western critical thinking approach, as well as described their educational experiences in Africa. Three major frameworks guided the study including van Manen’s interpretive hermeneutical approach to qualitative research, the conceptual models of critical thinking described by Sheffer and Rubenfeld’s (2000) nursing consensus statement and Barnett’s (1997) description of criticality, and the African concept of Ubuntu. Seven themes and a variety of subthemes emerged including learning experiences in Africa, using new learning tools to adapt to critical thinking, fear, desire for faculty interaction, cultural factors impeding critical thinking, evolving self-awareness, and the voice of those afraid to speak. The themes suggest that the majority of students interviewed experienced significant differences in educational styles and environments between Africa and the United States; and that these differences, in concert with their own cultural assumptions, created challenges for being successful in their nursing program. While faced with these challenges, the students strongly desired to become academically successful and to utilize a variety of adaptive tools for learning critical thinking from a western perspective. Implications for both educational institutions and further research were discussed that may help nursing educators better understand the African student experience and assist the students successfully complete their nursing education.



African, Critical thinking, Nursing student, Ubuntu, International student