Assessment Plans in Nursing Education Curriculum

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are interested in nursing education, then assessment is really important to the work you do and the improvements you seek to make. This lesson discusses how you can make meaningful assessment plans in nursing education curricula.

Why Assessment Counts

As someone who cares deeply about the next generation of nurses, Lucy is proud to have gotten involved in nursing education. She works part-time as a nurse at her hospital, and for the rest of the time, she helps train and educate new colleagues.

Recently, Lucy has been thinking a lot about the role of assessment, or evaluation, in nursing education. She has discovered that a good assessment can really help her understand her nursing students' strengths and weaknesses. This in turn can help her figure out where to go next in her curriculum and instruction.

Designing Assessment Plans

When Lucy plans an assessment for a nursing student, she starts by asking herself what she really hopes to get out of it. This is the key to designing an assessment that will be valid in telling her what she needs to know.

For example, when Lucy has been working with a group of students on a human anatomy unit. She wants to plan an assessment that will tell her how much anatomy they have memorized.

On the other hand, when she has been working with them on nurturance and bedside manner, she wants to assess the extent to which they have internalized meaningful strategies for working with patients.

Because the goals of these assessments are different, Lucy understands that it's appropriate for the assessments themselves to look different as well. For the first, she might give her students anatomical diagrams to label, but for the seond she might learn more from observing their work with patients or patient simulators.

Implementing Assessment Plans

Once Lucy has planned out the assessments she'll use in a certain unit, she realizes that she needs to hold herself accountable for implementing them.

Timing is key when implementing an assessment. Lucy thinks carefully about when it makes sense to give an assessment and how much time her students will have to complete it in.

Some assessments are implemented while her students are in practicum work, while others are implemented in the classroom. Writing assessments tend to occur on students' own time, and Lucy has them submit these over e-mail.

Evaluating Assessments

After grading and thinking about her students' work, Lucy takes some time to step back and evaluate the assessments. First, she asks herself the following questions:

  • What did I learn about my students from these assessments?
  • What did I learn about my curriculum and instruction?
  • What would make these assessments more effective in giving me the information I need?

Lucy also compares assessment notes with other nursing instructors, finding collaborative strategies that help them think about what assessments are and are not working with their students.

Using What You Have Learned

Finally, Lucy understands that a strong nursing education assessment is formative, meaning that it helps her design the next steps in her curriculum, or to think about her instruction differently.

When Lucy has given a cycle of assessments, she is able to look back over the data and identify commonalities among her students in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, and areas where they are most in need of further instruction.

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