Avenues for Research

While experts continue to debate whether CT is a learned skill or developmentally hard-wired, perhaps dental educators could test the notion. The following experiment is suggested for discovering whether dental curriculum helps students without CT dispositions become more proficient in critical thinking skills.

All incoming dental students take the CCDTI and the CCTST or the HSRT during the first weeks of school.

Double-blind matched-pair samples of students with and without CT training could be evaluated periodically (perhaps twice yearly in years one and two and twice each year in years three and four) to determine if their ability to reason has improved.

An expert panel could rate the reasoning skills of students solving practice-based problems commensurate with their year of training.

Mean changes between the two groups could be compared from year to year.

An experiment of this sort would address the lack of research on students' development of CTS and concerns about the validity of CTS assessment instruments. (Inter-rater reliability would need to be established among the expert panel prior to the experiment.) Before the end of the fourth year, students with and without CTS could take CCDTI and CCTST or HSRT tests again. Mean changes between the initial and final tests, as well as expert panel ratings, could be compared.

Of course, dental educators should design and conduct their own studies.