Nursing student perceptions of differing assessment tasks: Implications for the introduction of new genres

Year: 2016

Author: Harris, Lois, Dargusch, Joanne, Reid-Searl, Kerry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

When designing an assessment task, a genre must be selected that will allow students to demonstrate their knowledge. Choice of task is important as student perceptions of assessment tasks impact on their approach to learning, engagement, motivation, and self-efficacy (Struyven, Dochy, & Janssens, 2005; Lizzio & Wilson, 2013). While innovation is encouraged, student perceptions of novel assessment tasks are mixed; many initially preferring more traditional genres where they have succeeded in the past (Bevitt, 2015; Struyven & Devesa, 2016). This study explored 1st year Nursing students’ perceptions of three course assessment tasks, delivered via both on-campus and distance modes. While two tasks (essay, exam) adopted genres common within higher education, the third task was a Clinical Skills Audit, a practical demonstration of hands-on skills in front of an assessor. Data were gathered from two cohorts of nursing students via surveys (n = 109) and qualitative interviews (n = 25) to examine students’ perceptions of each task, including its value, difficulty, and their level of effort.Findings indicate that while students were initially anxious about the Clinical Skills Audit as for many it was an assessment genre they had not previously experienced, the support offered and its low-stakes nature (i.e., it was pass/fail and multiple attempts were allowed) helped them feel more comfortable with the assessment process and led them to ultimately rate this task as most valuable. These findings suggest that students can be persuaded to value unfamiliar assessment genres, but that it is advisable to provide significant scaffolding, initially introduce them in relatively low-stakes situations, and make sure they have a strong connection with what students perceive as real world professional knowledge and skills.ReferencesBevitt, S. (2015). Assessment innovation and student experience: A new assessment challenge and call for a multi-perspective approach to assessment research. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(1), 103-119. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2014.890170Lizzio, A., & Wilson, K. (2013). First-year students’ appraisal of assessment tasks: implications for efficacy, engagement and performance. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(4), 389-406. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2011.637156Struyven, K., Dochy, F., & Janssens, S. (2005). Students' perceptions about evaluation and assessment in higher education: A review. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(4), 325-341.Struyven, K., & Devesa, J. (2016). Students' perceptions of novel forms of assessment In G. T. L. Brown & L. R. Harris (Eds.), Handbook of Human and Social Conditions in Assessment (pp. 129-144). New York: Routledge.