Assessment matters; academics' orientations to assessment within undergraduate nursing education. A phenomenographic informed study
O’Reilly, Orflaith (2017) Assessment matters; academics' orientations to assessment within undergraduate nursing education. A phenomenographic informed study. Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.
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Academics are very aware of the primacy of assessment in shaping student learning in higher education. For many students, it is only when faced with completing an assessment or a deadline that their serious engagement with learning material commences. Assessment serves many purposes including as a measure of the quality of teaching, student learning, institutional and programme accountability. Yet, how academics view and experience assessment has received little or no attention in the research literature. Within the context of nursing education, it has received almost none.
The range and amount of assessment provided by academics, undertaken by student nurses over four years (in an Irish context) and processed within institutions provide a multitude of information about learning. It is only on successful completion of all assessment is a student deemed eligible for registration. A neglected aspect of research is how academics view and experience their assessing role in this context.
This study explored views on, and experiences of, nineteen academics assessing within undergraduate nursing education in one academic unit in Ireland. This was with a view to describe if differences in orientations to assessment could be identified. A phenomenographic informed approach, with its origins in educational research, was used to explore the topic. Three orientations were described. Within the first orientation, conventional assessment was applied within foundational human science modules to large student groups. The second orientation was depicted as using more active assessing processes to engage students more deeply with learning. How participants' relate to assessment in the third orientation was integrating assessment and feedback within a module of learning. Orientations reflect a shifting emphasis from teaching, assessment, and feedback as independent activities to overlapping one’s; and these findings have implications.
This study, its findings, and recommendations will interest those engaged in assessment scholarship and assessment within undergraduate nursing education.
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