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Promotion of critical thinking in e-learning: a qualitative study on the experiences of instructors and students

Authors Gharib M, Zolfaghari M, Mojtahedzadeh R, Mohammadi A, Gharib A

Received 28 January 2016

Accepted for publication 14 March 2016

Published 5 May 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 271—279


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Maria Olenick

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder

Mitra Gharib,1 Mitra Zolfaghari,2 Rita Mojtahedzadeh,1 Aeen Mohammadi,1 Atoosa Gharib3

1E-learning in Medical Education Department, Virtual School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 2E-learning in Medical Education Department, Virtual School, Nursing and Midwifery Care Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 3Pathology Department, School of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Background: With the increasing popularity of e-learning programs, educational stakeholders are attempting to promote critical thinking in the virtual education system. This study aimed to explore the experiences of both the instructors and the students about critical thinking promotion within the virtual education system.
Methods: This qualitative study recruited the instructors and students from four academic disciplines provided by the Virtual School of Tehran University of Medical Sciences (Tehran, Iran). All programs were master’s degree programs and utilized a blended (combination of e-learning and face to face) training. Semistructured interviews with the participants were used to collect data.
Results: The participants had a variety of experiences about how to promote critical thinking. These experiences were conceptualized in four main themes, namely, instructional design, educational leadership and management, local evidence, and belief systems.
Conclusion: The present study clarified the factors affecting critical thinking promotion in e-learning. Not only the instructors but also the educational designers and leaders can benefit from our findings to improve the quality of virtual education programs and promote critical thinking.

Keywords: thinking, distance education, graduate education, learning, framework

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