Assessing Students

Assessing Students


Experience of Assessment

Experience of Assessment

Student Focus - Student's experience of assessment

Professionalism One

Professionalism One


Professionalism Two

Professionalism Two


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Assessment - what it means

All health care students are continuously assessed in practice by qualified health care professionals. These assessments measure professional competence / practice. Professional competence / practice is constructed from a foundation of basic clinical skills, scientific knowledge and moral development ( Epstein & Hundert 2002). There are a number of processes involved including:

  • A cognitive function – acquiring and using knowledge to solve real life problems
  • An integrative function  - using biomedical and psychosocial data in clinical data
  • A relational function  -  communicating effectively with patients and colleagues
  • An effective  / moral function – the willingness, patience and emotional awareness to use the skills judiciously and humanely (Epstein and Hundert 2002) 

( Ref Epstein R.M. & Hundret E.M. (2002) Defining and Assessing Professional Competence JAMA 287(2) 226-235)

Role of the assessor

The role of the assessor is to assess the student's clinical practice and professional suitability against identified learning outcomes. Practitioners must take this responsibility seriously in order to safeguard the public.

Types of assessment

  • Formative - focus on the student's potential. This method offers the opportunity to formulate action learning plans so assessment criteria can be met
  • Summative - focus is on the student’s actual achievement
  • Continuous - the assessor needs to give constructive feedback throughout the assessment period
  • Episodic - feedback is given at milestones throught the assesment period

Methods of assessment

Direct observation - the student works under supervision from a registered nurse or health practitioner. Observation takes place as part of everyday working role of student. The placement assessor decides whether the student has achieved acceptable levels of performance in line with professional standards for competence (i.e. NMC and HCPC).

Sources of supporting evidence - these are sources of evidence produced by the student within the practice placement. These demonstrate the student’s clinical ability. Examples include:

  • Care/treatment plans
  • Care/treatment assessment plans
  • Witness statements

Questioning and answering - Enables the assessment of the student’s level of knowledge and understanding along with their communication skills  

Student self assessment - Students must be able to demonstrate their ability to self assess

Each outcome should be assessed using two methods of assessment - one of these methods should be direct observation.


  • All students at the same stage to be assessed in the same way
  • Assessment criteria used is objective
  • Assessments should be reproducible and consistent


  • The assessment used measures what it is supposed to measure
  • Assessment is relevant to the student’s training programme
  • Type of assessment used is achievable
  • Placement assessor follows established criteria e.g. NMC/HPC Standards of Proficiency

Useful resources

Action planning

Students who are unsuccessful in their practice assessments will need action planning to enable them to resit the assessment. Watch the video below to see how some practice educators address this issue.

Assessment resources

Please refer to the relevant placement documentation within profession specific section.