Grading Practice: A common framework to aid consistency and parity across midwifery education programmes in the United Kingdom

Authors: Fisher, M. and Way, S.

Start date: 2 December 2016

Aim: Promote greater parity of approaches to the grading of midwifery practice-based assessments across the United Kingdom by developing a common framework to support programme development.

Background: Since 2008, UK universities delivering midwifery education have been required by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the UK regulator for midwives, to grade practice-based assessments (NMC 2009). A previous scoping study (Fisher et al 2016), by the UK Lead Midwives for Education (LME-UK) showed there to be a number of inconsistencies in the interpretation and application of these professional educational standards across individual midwifery programmes.

Rationale: Following the findings from the scoping exercise, the LME-UK group agreed to develop a set of core principles for grading practice-based assessments with the intention of decreasing inconsistencies between universities. The principles would also inform the review of the education standards being undertaken by the NMC.

Method: A participatory action research process, a method used to solve a particular problem and produce guidelines for best practice (Friere 1970; Denscombe 2010) was used to enable progressive problem solving in the development of the core principles. Using a Mini-Delphi approach (Green et al 2007) 12 statements drawn from the findings of the scoping activity were circulated to the LME-UK group. Each statement was discussed and reviewed until consensus on terminology was achieved.

Findings: Responses to statements were themed: 1) Consensus, 2) Non-consensus, 2) Minor modifications, 4) Controversial. Consensus was unable to be achieved on one, resulting in agreement on 11 core principles for grading practice.

Recommendations: All midwifery programmes should incorporate the agreed core principles; the publication of a Position Statement by the group would support their implementation and inform the NMC of the findings.

Ethics: This was an internal evaluation initiated by the LME-UK group and no other participants were involved: no ethical approval was therefore sought.

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