Developing mentors to support students in practice, Part assessment and Accountability; – Assessment in practice. Summary



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Developing mentors to support students in practice, Part 6 Assessment and Accountability; 1 – Assessment in practice.

Summary

Assessment in clinical practice is a complex issue and one that many mentors and practice teachers struggle with. Therefore, a series of three articles will explore the complex areas of student assessment in clinical practice and the theoretical concepts that relate to assessment of learning and development. The first part initially will examine the importance of assessment and the role of mentors and practice teachers in relation to assessment. Definitions of assessment and purpose of assessment will be analysed along with the differing assessments methods that are used in clinical practice which directly relate to the third domain and outcomes of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008a) ‘Standards to Support Learning and Assessment in Practice’ (SSLAP) named ‘Assessment and Accountability’. This three part series is also part of a series of eleven which will provide advice and a number of learning activities for new and existing mentors and practice teachers that relate to the NMC (2008a) SSLAP. The series will enable them to develop within their role as a mentor and practice teacher and assist in developing a portfolio of evidence that meets the NMC (2008a) SSLAP.



Introduction

One of the major roles of mentors and practice teachers is to support learners in practice to enable them to be successful and register or record their qualification with the NMC. Registered nurses are required to be knowledgeable doers (Bradshaw and Merriman 2008). According to Price (2012) the focus of assessment in the practice setting is the use of knowledge, thus, mentors and practice teachers need to ensure that students are using the right knowledge, translating this into practice and are confidently combining the differing sorts of knowledge to good effect. Gopee (2011) purports that assessment is one of the most fundamental functions of a mentor and practice teacher. The NMC (2008a) within the SSLAP indicate that mentors and practice teachers must be competent to assess learning in order to make appropriate judgments relating to the student’s proficiency for entry to the register or for recording a qualification at a level above initial registration. Kilgallon and Thomson (2012) view assessment as a key component of every healthcare practitioner’s role. They went on to stress that assessments are needed to safeguard public protection by ensuring that only those students who have met the required standard of achievement can register as a nurse or midwife. Hand (2006) pointed out that assessment is also needed to maintain the credibility of the profession. Thus, mentors and practice teachers are responsible and accountable for some of the most critical and sophisticated assessments of a student’s learning, therefore investment in time and attention to detail is essential (Price 2012). The NMC (2008a) stipulate that mentors and practice teachers need to provide consistent and honest evaluation of a student’s performance in the clinical setting because it is seen as a critical part of a rigorous assessment. Mentors and practice teachers need to be aware that the mentoring role may lead to role conflict (Hand 2006) due to mentors and practice teachers often acting as a guide, supporter, facilitator as well as an assessor. This can be especially problematic if there are prolonged periods of contact between the student and mentor or practice teacher, which certainly is the case for practice teachers and their students. Thus Price (2005a) emphasises that assessments in practice must be conducted transparently, objectively, rigorously and fairly but he indicates that it is far from easy. For this to happen mentors and practice teachers need to have a breadth of understanding of the many dimensions of assessment strategies.







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