1 Dublin Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
2 Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 4404-4415
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
The BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics is a level 8 (honours) programme (Bologna Agreement, 1999) run jointly by the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT Kevin Street) and the University of Dublin (Trinity College). The programme is designed to provide an integrated training in the science of nutrition and dietetics and its application to human health and wellbeing both at the individual and community level. To fulfil professional requirements (European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians, 2005; Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, 2005), it includes 30 weeks of placement-based studies, 24 of which are currently undertaken in a variety of health care settings in Year 4. Students must be deemed competent to practice professionally as a dietitian in order to successfully complete their BSc degree.

Research undertaken (Bowles, 2007) on the Irish system of practice placement education for student dietitians indicated that students experienced difficulty in changing from one learning environment to another, understanding at the outset what the practice placement education entailed and understanding what they needed to do to gain competence. Practice Placement Educators reported a lack of guidelines and assessment criteria.

In response to these issues, the programme team and personnel from the DIT Learning, Teaching & Technology Centre initiated a development of

 Practice Placement Learning Outcomes and Performance Indicators

 Staged Competence Criteria for Monitoring Students on Placement

 Staged Formative and Summative Assessments

 General Guidelines for Practice Placement Education.

This paper discusses the collaborative approach between the higher education institution and the practice placement educators on this work based learning partnership. The partnership work has highlighted the need for an inclusive approach to all practice placement settings, which facilitates the creation of a clear support structure for placement mentors/assessors. A standardised, explicit assessment process that contributes to progressive skills acquisition and the requirement that practice placement is fully integrated into the academic curriculum have, furthermore, been identified. Self-directed learning, self-assessment and reflective practice and professional skills which need to be viewed as outcomes of practice placement and the training of practice placement educators must be within a process that acknowledges and uses their experience.

Bowles M (2007) Challenges and strategies in assessing clinical skill acquisition: a study of the assessment of practical placements amongst undergraduate dietetic students in Ireland. MA Thesis. Edgehill University, UK.
European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians (2005) European Academic and Practitioner Standards for Dietetics benchmarkjune2005_uk.pdf (accessed 30th November 2009).
Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (2005) INDI Standards of Education (accessed 30th November 2009).
Practice placement education, dietetics, progressive skills acquisition.