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


A breadth of understanding of the assessment strategies



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A breadth of understanding of the assessment strategies.

Definition and Purpose of Assessment


Learning Activity 1

Discuss with a colleague the significance and impact of assessments in practice for mentors or practice teachers?

In practice students are required to have a minimum of 3 formal assessments.

What is the purpose of the initial assessment, midpoint assessment and final assessment?

What should happen within each of these assessments?
Now place your answers in the portfolio and map these against the relevant domains and outcomes.
Assessment measures a student’s learning as a result of a teaching or a learning situation (Sherwin and Muir 2011). However, Neary (2000) purports that assessment is a contentious issue. Thus there are numerous definitions of assessment and many (Neary 2000, Cruzon 2003, Nicklin and Kenworthy 2000) suggest it is about judging or appraising or putting a value on something. Walsh (2010) suggests it involves making a judgement about the level and capabilities of a student’s progress and performance in terms of their competence of knowledge and skills. Similarly, Kilgallon and Thompson (2012) purport that assessment is a measurement and a process by which information about a student’s learning and clinical practice is collected. Hand’s (2006 pg 48) definition combines the previous two suggestions as she states that, ‘assessment is a means of collecting data to demonstrate an acceptable standard of practice has been reached by a student on which a decision to declare a practitioner competent can be made’. Price (2012) stresses that assessment of practice learning is complex. Interpretation and views on assessment vary greatly in that it is subjective, personal and emotive (Lee 2006). Walsh (2010) implies that no fully adequate definition of assessment exists and that it is hard to define due to the many variables and variations on what and who is being assessed. Now complete learning activity 1 below.

Assessment can be either; formative or summative, and according to Price (2005a) it is important that mentors and practice teachers know the differences between these 2 aspects. Formative assessment allows the mentor or practice teacher to advise the student on their progress (Price 2005a) and the initial and midpoint assessment of a student in practice are deemed as formative assessments. Formative assessment provides an evaluation of the level of achievement so far. It is good for motivating a student, but it useful to help identify learning needs (Kinnell and Hughes 2010, Gopee 2011). From this type of assessment the mentor or practice teacher should then devise an agreed action plan with the student. They should document the identified learning needs, what is required, how it will be achieved and by when. Summative assessment is used to determine if the student has reached the desired level of achievement against the set criteria (Walsh 2010). The summative assessment usually follows after a period of formative assessment and occurs at a fixed time. The final assessment in practice is classed as the summative assessment which again according to Price (2005a) is designed to judge the competency of the student’s practice against stated benchmarks. In most cases these benchmarks will be the relevant NMC’s (2001, 2004a, 2004b 2009, 2010) competencies that the student is working towards as part of their educational programme. There are many reasons why we need to assess students in clinical practice, (see box 1) but one of the main purposes is to help students to learn and progress.


Overview of the NMC Standards for Pre-registration Midwifery or Nursing Education (2009 or 2010), the Standards for Specialist Education and Practice (2001) and Standards of Proficiency for Specialist Public Health Nurses (2004a).

Before reading on complete the following learning activity 2








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