Friday, September 19, 2008

Constructing courses to enhance learning

Grading clinical is a question I stuggle with. When our students are on clinical for 6 weeks in the medical/surgical setting they receive a grade at the end of this. How to allocate a grade is difficult because often it is reliant on the students abilitiy to articulate verbally or written, what they have learnt. Many of you like me have been learning about learner styles during this certificate. People who learn auditory or through reading are usually people who can also express themselves well this way. However for many learners kinsethetic is the way they learn which is why they are so good on practical placements. But the only way we have to assess them at present is to look at the portfolio they hand in, listen to what they tell us and to a small extent preceptor/ward feedback. The reason preceptor feedback is not given high priority is because the RN is often assessing different things from us (technical skills and relating well to patients and staff is what they often comment on). This is particurly so if the RN wasn't edcuated in the degree system and received an apprentciship style of training. The RN may not understand what we as a nursing school are trying to assess in the way of knowledge and meeting nursing council competencies.

So using portfolios and judging on how the student answers our questions is given the most emphasis. This disadvantages students who cannot express themselves well. It also means consistancy amongst lecturers in the course can be difficult because we often have different things we favour that we want to assess. This is why going pass/fail would make it easy. However my concern is that if we did this the students may not attempt to make links with theory courses and focus on completing ward tasks. Interestingly enough I asked my students the other day if they liked having to do a portfolio considering so much work was involved. They responded with a resounding YES it was essential for them to 'make' them learn the work..If we went pass/fail this would not encourage the students who do put the extra effort in. latest thoughts is to seperate out health assessment as a new course (we can do this soon, as we are having curriculum review). Run this alongside clinical and this course will receive a grade but will be linked in to their clinical experience..i.e refelection, case study and pathophysiology will be the assessment outcome for the health assessment course. This means they would still have to try and link clinical but the lecturers on clinical can assess pass/fail. What do other people think about pass/fail in comparison to grading???.

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