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ASSESSMENT MATTERS

O. O' Reilly, D. Lehwaldt, C. Mc Gonagle

Dublin City University (IRELAND)
Assessment matters; it matters to lecturers who devise, deliver and grade them, to students who complete them and to those who support them such as parents, partners, and carers; assessment also matters to employers and the taxpayer who funds education and would like to see the maintenance of standards and value for money (Brown and Glasner 1999).

The importance of assessment in the promotion of student learning is well established (Brown and Knight 1994, Brown and Glasner 1999, Race 2005). In a briefing paper on the Changing Society Skillbeck (2001 p 76) notes that “a primary obligation of universities, through teaching, access to resources and assessments is to foster, facilitate and advance students’ learning. Assessment as in judging students work, can take many forms and is a vitally important activity in the professional education of student nurses. As registered nurses they are professionally accountable for the application of their knowledge, skills and attitude following graduation. Appropriately designed assessment has the power to determine the quality of student learning Ramsden (1992) and should motivate the student to learn, given that student behaviour tends to be organised around assessment deadlines.

At Dublin City University (DCU) the four year BSc (Hons) curriculum in General,Intellectual Disability, Psychiatric and 4.5 year Childrens and General programmes lead to the professional registration degree. The assessment methodologies and progression requirements for this degree are developed in accordance with the Marks and Standards for University Awards (DCU 2009) and the Requirements and Standards for Registration Education (An Bord Altranais 2005).

The module NS457 Teaching and Assessing in Clinical Practice a new core module is approved on the BSc (Hons) .The aim of this module is to enable students to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary for teaching and assessing in clinical practice. Up to 170 fourth year student nurses completed this module in Semester one 2009.

The assessment strategy was in our view innovative, each element of the assessment was weighted at no more that 30% of the overall mark , this exercise has challenged students as they are required to:

(a) Devise and present a short teaching session to their peers
(b) Be assessed by peers
(c) Reflect on the experience of presenting and of being assessd by peers and finally
(d) Judge all elements of the work submitted using a grading band.

Students have an opportunity to evaluate this module, including their experiences of this assessment strategy when it is completed in December 2009. The lessons learnt as a result of this exercise are presented.

References:

An Bord Altranais (2005) Requirements and Standards for Nurse Registration Education Programmes. An Bord Altranais Dublin

Brown, S. Knight,P .(1994) Assessing Learners in Higher Education. Kogan London .

Brown, S. Glasner, A .(1999) Assessment Matters in Higher Education. The Society for Research into Higher Education. Open University Press. Buckingham.

Race, P. (2005) Never Mind the Teaching Feel the Learning. Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA). Birmingham.

Ramsden, P. (1992) Learning to Teach in Higher Education. London Routledge.

Skillbeck, M. (2001) The University Challenged A Review of International Trends and Issues with Particular Reference to Ireland. The Higher Education Authority. Dublin