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

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Learning Activity 3

Look at the students assessment documentation used within your practice area.

Review the assessment criteria. What assessment methods would you use to assess these? How valid and reliable are these assessment methods? Do they measure the assessment criteria stated?
How practical are your assessment methods?

Setting the learning outcomes at the outset of the placement is crucial as it sets the baseline (Hand 2006). Validity can be broken down into several components; Content, Predictive, Face, Construct and Concurrent. Content validity refers to the material or curriculum being assessed and whether it is appropriate to what is expected for the stage and level of the student’s training. More importantly Hand (2006) suggests that assessment must also test a student’s knowledge, their comprehension, application and their psychomotor skills; Predictive validity relates to whether the assessment predicts a student’s future performance. It is important that future performance of a student can be predicted in order for them to be accepted onto the NMC register and also whether they can adjust their performance to different practice settings (Gopee 2011); face validity relates to whether the assessment appears to be relevant to what is being assessed and whether the student actually demonstrates the complexity of the analytical, interpersonal and technical skills required for competency (Gopee 2011); Construct validity refers to a student’s attitude, values and behaviours which is key for any healthcare practitioner; especially in light of the Francis report (2013); Concurrent validity refers to whether the assessment results correlate with those of other assessments used at the same time and whether they give the same results.

However, an assessment cannot be valid unless it is reliable (Hand 2006, Walsh 2010, Gopee 2011). This term is used to indicate the consistency of results when repeated on different occasions. According to Walsh (2010) a good assessment should always give the same results no matter who is administrating it. To increase the reliability of an assessment is to make sure that all those involved in the assessment use the same assessment criteria. One way this can be achieved is to ensure that mentors and practice teachers utilise the student learning outcomes from their practice placement documents along with the organisational protocols, policies, procedures and guidelines.
Gopee (2011) explains that discrimination refers to the ability of the assessment to differentiate between different levels of competency. A taxonomy of learning is used to enable the differentiation of levels of competency, such as; Benner’s (1984) Novice to Expert or Steinaker and Bell’s (1979) Exposure to Dissemination. As previously mentioned one of the main purposes of assessment is to protect the public and therefore, assessments need to differentiate between those students who are at the required level and those that are not (Aston and Hallam 2011). Now complete learning activity 4.

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