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A survey of the assessment of clinical learning in selected nursing education institutions in KwaZulu Natal within an outcomes-based education (OBE) context.

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Assessment of clinical learning as a process for determining competence in practice is one of the underpinning principles of establishing and measuring student progress III nurse education. Literature reviewed for this study revealed that assessment of clinical learning in nursing education has been a problem for many years in the profession and it still is even today. This study was therefore aimed at investigating the current methods of assessing clinical learning used in nursing education institutions specifically as these relate to the South African Qualification Authority {SAQA)'s call for applied competence. The study was an exploratory descriptive survey. Data were collected through the use of questionnaires. Questionnaires were mailed to those institutions that were not easily accessible owing to their geographic location and questionnaires were delivered by the researcher to the geographically accessible institutions. All nurse educators employed in five nursing colleges, two university nursing departments and one technikon in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) were asked to participate in the study. The total number of nurse educators in the above-mentioned institutions was 195. The return rate of completed questionnaires was 56%. The results of this study revealed that the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and continuous clinical assessments were the two methods currently most commonly used in nursing education for assessing clinical learning, The results also revealed that triangulation of assessment methods of clinical learning was prevalent in nursing education institutions, with the OSCE and continuous clinical assessments being the most favoured combined strategies in assessing clinical learning. Very few participants mentioned the non-traditional clinical assessment methods (such as the triple jump and portfolio assessments) as strategies of assessing clinical learning that were used in their institutions. This study also revealed that continuous clinical assessment as a method of assessing clinical competence allowed nurse educators to assess applied competence and was generally believed to provide a more valid, reliable and realistic form of assessment. Continuous clinical assessments were also favoured for their authenticity because they were undertaken in a real clinical setting. Within the era of outcomes-based education, the focus in assessment moves from judgmental assessment methods to developmental assessments with extra emphasis on authentic and integrated assessment methods.


Thesis (M.N.)-University of Natal, Durban, 2003.


Nursing--Study and teaching--South Africa., Competency-based education--South Africa., Theses--Nursing.