The main objective of the current reform is the production of graduates capable of facing challenges and adapt to changes that may be encountered post-graduation. According to the ICN (2009), employers perceived that graduates were not prepared for the realities of practice nor did they have the competencies needed for health care services. That necessitates higher education to prepare students to be competent graduates through teaching content and transferable skills. Appraised literature reveals that employing Bloom’s Taxonomy in class and integrating learning outcomes and assessment strategies, leads to production of graduates that are competent with skills expected from a professional. Previous literature also indicates that poor alignment of curriculum objectives with assessment strategies deprive students‟ development of crucial skills as well.
Purpose: The purpose of the study was to analyse the cognitive levels of final examination questions for the Diploma Nursing Programme using the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy at a selected nursing college in Eastern Cape.
Methodology: The quantitative descriptive approach was adopted for the study where content analysis was used to analyse final examination questions. The study population
consisted of the selected nursing modules’ examination question papers for a four-year Diploma Nursing Programme; selected from first year to fourth year level for the period of
2011-2015, for summative and supplementary examinations. A non-probability, convenience sampling method was adopted for the study and the sample consisted of a total of 1709 questions from 95 examination question papers which were analysed. Data collection was done using a template incorporating the six cognitive levels of the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Questions were examined according to template and coding was done for single word, the action verb used in questioning, coded for frequency. Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 24 was used for data analysis. Findings: The results revealed that the highest percentage of questions set for the Diploma of Nursing Programme dealt with lower cognitive levels(remember, understand, and apply) of which, understand’ obtained the highest percentage across all levels in all modules, the higher order cognitive levels (analyse, evaluate, and create) were less assessed in the examination questions papers.
Recommendations: The study recommends that the nurse educators who are curriculum developers should revise the assessment strategies and align it to curriculum and learning outcomes as well as to the changing health care systems and complexities of patients‟ care demands. The development of assessment guide is highly recommended, which will be in line with the current instruction methods. Further, for the college management, staff development is recommended in terms of assessment strategies through in-service trainings, workshops, and seminars conducted by assessment experts, to improve in the construction of examination questions in order to develop student’s required crucial skills||en_US