Assessment of practice in pre-registration undergraduate nursing programmes: exploration of students and mentors experiences of grading student competence in practice

This source preferred by Janet Scammell and Vanessa Heaslip

Authors: Scammell, J. and Heaslip, V.

Start date: 11 June 2009

Theme of paper: Primary Theme: International research and practice initiatives in nursing education. Secondary Theme: Nurse education leadership and competency.

Type of paper: Concurrent presentation

First time presenters: No

Title of paper: Assessment of practice in pre-registration undergraduate nursing programmes: Exploration of students and mentors experiences of grading student competence in practice.

Overall aim of paper: To disseminate the findings of a two phase evaluation of a tool utilised to grade student performance in practice Abstract: Nursing is essentially a practice discipline, informed by a growing theoretical base. As such it crucial that students have a rigorous preparation in both theoretical and practical elements of nursing throughout their pre-registration programme (NMC 2004). Similarly, the assessment strategy ought to place equal value on both elements. However, this has frequently not reflected in common practice across the higher education sector in the United Kingdom. Generally, theoretical assessment has been the subject of considerable quality assurance measures, including graded marks, second marking and moderation. In contrast, practice assessment is frequently considered on a pass/fail basis only, with the resultant danger that theoretical work is perceived as more important than practice achievement and therefore excellence in practice can be ‘hidden’. The challenge for those involved in nurse education is to not only accurately assess practice but to have mechanisms that assign equal value to both aspects of the curriculum. This is especially pertinent in light of national concerns regarding fitness for practice at the point of registration and the development of sign–off mentors (NMC 2008).

This paper presents part two of an evaluation undertaken to review a new tool designed to grade the assessment of practice in a pre-registration nursing programme. Building on the themes established from the qualitative evaluation (Scammell et al 2007), this paper will present the findings of a questionnaire survey of third year students (representative of all branches) and a range of mentors across the placement area. Recommendations for future practice will be made. References: Nursing and Midwifery Council. 2004. Standards of Proficiency for Pre-registration Nursing Education. London: NMC.

Nursing and Midwifery Council. 2008. Standards to Support Learning and Assessment in Practice.2nd Edition. London: NMC.

Scammell, J, Halliwell, D & Partlow, C. 2007. Assessment of practice in pre-registration undergraduate nursing programmes: An evaluation of a tool to grade student performance in practice. ISBN: 978-1-85899-243-3. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University. Intended learning outcomes: At the end of the session, you will be able to: 1. Question the concept of grading practice on a pass/fail basis in light of national policy directives by the NMC.

2. Understand how one HEI has responded to the challenges posed by grading students’ performance in practice.

3. Critically explore students and mentors experiences of grading student performance in practice.

Recommended reading: Andre, K. 2000. Grading student clinical practice performance: the Australian perspective. Nurse Education Today. 20, 672-679.

Duffy, K. 2004 Failing to fail. Report prepared for NMC. Available from: [Accessed 5th August 2008) Glover, P., Ingham, E., Gassner, L-A. 1997. The development of an evaluation tool for grading clinical competence. Contemporary Nurse. 6, 110-116.

Key words: Assessment, Mentorship, Grading practice performance.

Professional biography: Janet Scammell works as Senior Academic for Practice Learning at the School of Health and Social Care at Bournemouth University. She has held a range of posts in practice and education management and has been involved in a number of funded projects concerned with uni-professional and interprofessional learning in practice. Her current doctoral studies concern intercultural mentorship in nursing. Vanessa Heaslip works as a Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing at the School of Health and Social Care at Bournemouth University. As part of this role she is responsible for coordinating both preparatory training as well as a range of continuing professional development activities for mentors. Aligned to the Centre for Wellbeing and Quality of Life (within the university) due to a research interest within the area of vulnerability as well as minority and marginalised groups.

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