Singapore Institute of Technology

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Investigating Critical Thinking and Resilience Among Occupational Therapy Students.

conference contribution
posted on 2022-12-21, 04:44 authored by Bhing Leet TanBhing Leet Tan


Studies have been done in recent years that allude to the importance of critical thinking and resilience in health sciences students. A study on pre-registration nursing students found that entry critical thinking scores were predictive of programme completion and academic performance (Pitt et al., 2015). Occupational therapy students’ critical thinking skills can also be enhanced through instructional strategies, which significantly influence academic success (Lederer, 2007; Peeters and Boddu, 2016; Pitt et al., 2015). In addition to critical thinking, there has been increasing attention on resiliency among health science students, as they need to cope with the emotional and workload stress of working as healthcare professionals when they graduate (Bahadir-Yilmaz and Fatma, 2015).  Resilience has been shown to be associated with positive mental health among students, as well as to academic performance (Hartley, 2011). Preliminary findings suggest that self-efficacy and perceived academic stress contribute to resilience in first-year nursing students in a post-registration bachelor degree course (Siow et al., 2015). Other studies suggest that resilience can be developed in health sciences students (Reyes et al., 2015). However, there is very little literature on this area among occupational therapy students. 

The SIT-Trinity College Dublin (TCD) one-year degree conversion programme in occupational therapy (OT) was started in 2012, to enable diploma holders in these disciplines to advance their clinical reasoning, critical appraisal and clinical application skills for practice in health and social care sectors. Students who enrolled in this programme in academic year (AY) 2014 and 2015 cohort completed the Watson-Glaser™ II Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA) scale at the beginning of the programme. Students in the AY2016 cohort completed the WGCTA, the Resilience Scale, Academic Self-Efficacy subscale from the Academic Milestones Scale, the Proactive Coping Subscale as well as the Positive Mental Health Instrument. The same measurements will be administered with them when they complete their programme in June 2017. 

Hence, the objectives of this study are:

  1. To explore associations between baseline critical thinking skills and final academic performance (through analysing data from AY2014 to AY2016).
  2. To investigate changes in critical thinking and resiliency levels after the degree conversion programme (through analysing AY2016 data)
  3. To explore associations between changes in critical thinking and resiliency with final academic performance (through AY2016 data).
  4. To explore associations between resiliency levels and positive mental health (through AY2016 data). 


The abovenamed scales were administered in the form of online survey, during the first week of the occupational therapy course. For the 2014 and 2015 cohort, only baseline WGCTA data was obtained and correlational analysis was conducted to determine association with final academic results. For the 2016 cohort, t-tests would be conducted to determine changes in critical thinking, resiliency and positive mental health before and after completion of the programme. Correlational analyses will be conducted to determine associations among critical thinking, resiliency, self efficacy, proactive coping and positive mental health.  Finally, regression analysis will be conducted to identify predictors of final academic performance. 


Among the 2014 and 2015 cohort (n=55), the ‘Draw Conclusions’ subscale of the WGCTA was correlated with final academic results r=.317, p = 0.018. Among the AY2016 cohort (n=40), their baseline positive mental health was associated with resiliency r= 0.627, p= 0.00; academic self efficacy r=0.450 , p=0.004 and proactive coping r= 0.650, p= 0.00. Resiliency was also associated with academic self efficacy r=0.628, p=0.00 and proactive coping r=0.716, p=0.00. Further analyses will be conducted when the AY2016 students complete their programme in June 2017. 


There appears to be associations between academic self efficacy, proactive coping, resiliency and positive mental health. In addition, the ability to ‘draw conclusions’, which consists of inference, interpretation and deduction, is also associated with final academic performance.   


  1. Bahadir-Yilmaz, E., Fatma, O., 2015. The Resilience Levels Of First-Year Medical, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Health Sciences Students. Int. J. Caring Sci. 8, 385–392.
  2. Lederer, J.M., 2007. Disposition Toward Critical Thinking Among Occupational Therapy Students 61, 519–526.
  3. Peeters, M.J., Boddu, S.H.S., 2016. Assessing development in critical thinking: One institution’s experience. Curr. Pharm. Teach. Learn. 8, 271–278. doi:10.1016/j.cptl.2016.02.007
  4. Pitt, V., Powis, D., Levett-Jones, T., Hunter, S., 2015. The influence of critical thinking skills on performance and progression in a pre-registration nursing program. Nurse Educ. Today 35, 125–131. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2014.08.006


Journal/Conference/Book title

1st Asia-Pacific Occupational Therapy Symposium, 20-22 October 2017, Taoyuan, Taiwan

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