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Human influences impacting assessors’ experiences of marginal student performances in clinical courses

  • Lynda J. Hughes
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: Griffith University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Building N48 Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia.
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia

    Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia
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  • Amy N.B. Johnston
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia

    Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia

    Department of Emergency Medicine, Gold Coast University Hospital, 1 Hospital Blvd, Southport, Qld, 4215, Australia
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  • Marion L. Mitchell
    Affiliations
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia

    Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia

    Nurse Practice Development Unit, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ipswich Rd, Woolloongabba, Qld, 4102, Australia
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Published:February 08, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colegn.2018.02.001

      Abstract

      Background

      Bachelor of Nursing programmes are designed to prepare nurses to be capable of providing safe and competent, individualised patient care. While research literature is rich with information exploring clinical competence and assessment in nursing programmes, there is a paucity of information on nursing students’ performances in clinical assessment when their capacity to provide quality care is less evident.

      Aim

      Herein, we describe university employed assessors’ perceptions of the human influences that impact their experiences of grading students’ performances in clinical practice and other assessments within clinical courses when that performance is marginal; not a clear pass or fail.

      Methods

      Two focus groups and 14 semi-structured one-on-one interviews were conducted with assessors at a multi-campus Australian university.

      Findings

      Our findings indicated that assessors experience a range of challenges when grading student performances in clinical assessments when that performance is not a clear pass or fail. Thematic analysis identified ‘human influences’ significantly impact assessor experiences.

      Discussion

      The findings provide an understanding around the human influences of assessors’ experiences. Theses influences include: the role of the assessor as gatekeeper, the impact of significant conversations; and assessor supports. Providing appropriate support through meaningful education appears to be the most needed and feasible intervention for this group of assessors. Thus, by understanding assessors’ perceptions of the impact that human influences have on their experiences, supportive measures may be able to be developed to ensure assessors can enact the role of gatekeeper appropriately.

      Conclusion

      This study has contributed insights into assessors’ experiences in grading marginal student performance in clinical courses in an Australian context. Gaining insight into assessors’ individual experiences, enables planning and implementation of supportive measures, including clearly articulated guidelines, for assessors and potentially students.

      Keywords

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