Enhancing Critical Thinking in Virtual Medical Education Program: A Qualitative Study of Faculty Members’ and Students’ Experiences


Mohammad Reza Sarmadi 1 , Mitra Gharib 1 , * , Issa Ebrahimzadeh 1 , Hossein Zare 1 , Amir Hossein Emami 1 , Atoosa Gharib 1

1 Iran

How to Cite: Sarmadi M R , Gharib M , Ebrahimzadeh I , Zare H , Emami A H , et al. Enhancing Critical Thinking in Virtual Medical Education Program: A Qualitative Study of Faculty Members’ and Students’ Experiences, Strides Dev Med Educ. 2011 ; 8(1):e59568.


Strides in Development of Medical Education: 8 (1); e59568
Published Online: July 15, 2011
Article Type: Research Article
Received: August 07, 2017
Accepted: March 16, 2011




Background & Objective: As enrollment in virtual online courses continues to grow, one of the stakeholders' concerns is the enhancement of critical thinking in students. This study was performed in order to answer this core question: "what are the barriers and facilitating factors of critical thinking in virtual environment?" Methods: This qualitative study is part of a mixed qualitative and quantitative study performed for developing the process of teaching critical thinking in virtual medical education program in which 7 e-teachers and 11 postgraduate e-students (out of a total of 12 students) of virtual medical education discipline were investigated. Data were gathered using a semi-structured questionnaire. All interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and then analyzed using Strauss and Corbin's constant comparative method. Results: Participants had a variety of experiences about critical thinking improvement that were conceptualized in three major themes of: "belief system" including personal beliefs and aspects that are considered as constant during a short time period, "educational management" including factors that can be manipulated by the educational leaders and "critical thinking in virtual environment" including motivating and limiting factors of critical thinking. Conclusion: The results of this study highlight the barriers and facilitating factors of enhancing critical thinking in virtual environment. Teachers, educational planners and leaders can use the results of this study in order to improve their virtual programs and student's critical thinking.


Critical thinking Medical education Virtual education Qualitative study

© 2011, Medical Education Development Center. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.


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