Assessing Students’ Performance
Competence in clinical practice is today, more than ever before, an essential outcome of undergraduate education in nursing and other health disciplines. As such, accurate and reliable evaluation of clinical performance, and the provision of formative and summative feedback on performance, are essential aspects of quality clinical education.
Principles for assessing competence
There are a number of relevant competency standards or frameworks. These standards or frameworks are designed to provide a resource for people assessing the competence of health professionals for professionals whose performance is undergoing assessment. Issues of particular note include the comprehensive nature of competence, use of multiple assessment methods and the need for an evidence-based approach to the assessment of competence.
This resource written by Lake (2005) as part of the Teaching on the Run Tips Series, highlights some particular aspects of assessment in the workplace, the measurement of performance, challenges for assessors in assessing individual students and general strategies for ongoing improvement.
This article by Vickery and Lake (2005) is also part of the Teaching on the Run Tips Series. It builds on the comprehensive notion of competence (see the ANMC resource above) and briefly highlights best practice characteristics of good feedback. It is also worth noting the connections with other LaCE modules, particularly Envisioning (Setting clear directions) and Enhancing (Interacting in a range of contexts and Empowering others to achieve).
7 tips for giving positive feedback
Writing from a management perspective, Lyndsay Swinton (2005) outlines 7 tips for giving (positive) feedback. Her slightly different ‘take’ on this issue adds to the information provided in the resources identified above.
This short video clip has been designed to assist your thinking about giving feedback on students’ performance in the clinical setting:
After watching the video, we suggest you reflect on the following questions:
- To what extent do you think feedback was provided effectively in this interaction, and why?
- What were the strengths in the way feedback was provided? What are your reasons here?
- What were the gaps, if any, in the way feedback was provided? What are your reasons here?
- What, if anything, would you have done differently in this situation, and why?
- What does ‘assessment’ within the context of clinical education mean to you? What is the basis of your view?
- What is your definition of ‘competence’ and how does it apply to your approach to the assessment of students' performance in the workplace?
- In your view, what are the similarities and differences between formative and summative assessment? How do you action these concepts in practice?
- To what extent do you agree with Vickery and Lane's best practice indicators of quality feedback (see the Giving Feedback resource above)? What are the reasons for your views? Based on your experience, what additional/alternative suggestions do you have?