Evidence-Based Evaluation: Challenges in Objectivity
While written examinations are expectedly a constant part of nursing education, it is arguable that practical or actual experiences and tests are most valuable for one who aims to enter the nursing profession. However, it relation to such aspects of learning it is vital to highlight the fact that evidence-based evaluation is commonly regarded as a point of concern due to the lack of appropriate basis in maintaining objectivity (Ebbert & Connors, 2004). To further explain, the context of written tests, coursework, and discussions the instructor may simply evaluate and even compare the responses provided by students for soundness and validity (Oermann & Gaberson, 2009). Indeed, in the classroom setting, evidence-based evaluation is an endeavor which is realistically and effectively achieved for the aforesaid activities.
In contrast though, learning tools focused upon the more practice-based aspects of nursing are as noted beforehand rather problematic in terms of achieving a proper means of evaluation; for example, means of evaluation through direct observation have often been noted to be commonly invalid as the biases of instructors manifest (Ebbert & Connors, 2004). Throughout the following discussion, the means through which evidence-based evaluation is currently accomplished would be reviewed.
In terms of providing knowledge on the clinical responsibilities of nurses, simulations have become a foremost option considered and applied by most nursing educators. As a matter of fact, it has been established that simulation as a means of educating nursing students has considerable benefits in comparison to actual clinical practice; those who underwent simulated clinical endeavors achieved greater marks in knowledge tests (Schlairet & Pollock, 2010). Regardless of such positive results though, the question as to whether simulation may be a potential means of lessening if not eliminating subjectivity in evaluation procedures still remain, especially since actual assessments have not been completed throughout the span of time wherein simulation was given and instead were only provided as posttest measures. While such an approach may still be regarded as an appropriate means of conducting evidence-based evaluation, it would be most ideal to develop means to objectively assess clinical performance during an actual procedure. In this sense, the use of Standardized Patient Experiences as a means to objectively assess students while undergoing simulated clinical practice is considered as a beneficial option; specifically, such an approach would enable educators to evaluate the manner in which students respond and act towards the standardized patient which acts in a uniform manner (Ebbert & Connors, 2004). The standardization of the simulated patient would certainly lessen case to case biases as differences in the situations become minimal.
Nonetheless, whether a student is given the chance to gain knowledge and skill through a modern simulated scenario or through actual clinical practice, it cannot be refuted that the same considerations must be maintained to as to establish that an evaluation procedure is truly evidence-based. In particular, an assessment procedure must encompass soundness, reliability, and appropriateness in relation to time and resource considerations; furthermore, a proper procedure of evaluation must also allow for the educator to distinguish between various levels of performance and competence (Hand, 2006). While it is evident that a myriad of ways to establish proper ways of conducting evidence-based evaluation it is still obvious that further steps must be accomplished in order to develop an evidence-based approach which is mainly objective. In order to develop an approach which encompasses objectivity at an ideal degree the aspects of current evaluation procedures which may induce biases should be eliminated. Such a worthwhile endeavor in furthering the quality and reliability of evidence-based evaluation is undeniably complex and is without doubt a difficult task as observation and direct assessments are commonly included. Nonetheless, in order to ensure as well as to further enhance the competency future nurses, continuously improving evidence-based evaluation procedures is definitely a vital pursuit.
Ebbert, D.W. & Connors, H. (2004). Standardized Patient Experiences: Evaluation of Clinical Performance and Nurse Practitioner Student Satisfaction. Nursing Education Perspectives, 24(1), 12 – 15.
Hand, H. (2006). Assessment of Learning in Clinical Practice. Nursing Standard, 21(4), 48 – 56.
Oermann, M.H. & Gaberson, K.B. (2009). Evaluation and Testing in Nursing Education (3nd Ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company Incorporated.
Schlairet, M.C. & Pollock, J.W. (2010). Equivalence Testing of Traditional and Simulated Clinical Experiences: Undergraduate Nursing Students’ Knowledge Acquisition. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(1), 43 – 47.