Clinical and Didactic Assessment Tools in Nursing

The Competency Outcomes and Performance Assessment (COPA) model recognizes the following core practice competencies: assessment and intervention skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, human caring and relationship skills, management skills, leadership skills, teaching skills, and knowledge integration skills (Kenner & Lott, 2013). The model is associated with the replacement of course objectives with measurable outcomes or competencies that better correspond with needs of the contemporary nursing practice.

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All competencies “lend themselves to criterion-referenced performance evaluations” (Kenner & Lott, 2013, p. 879); therefore, it could be argued that they include critical elements of objectivity. Systematized evaluation criteria are used for two types of learning: didactic and clinical (Cherry & Jacob, 2011; Duffy, 2013). Objective evaluations for didactic learning are called competency performance assessments (CPAs). Objective evaluations for clinical learning are referred to as competency performance examinations (CPEs) (Kenner & Lott, 2013). CPEs are usually more complicated due to the fact that they have to focus on a wide range of professional, ethical, and legal aspects of nursing care (Kenner & Lott, 2013).

The following clinical assessment and evaluation tools could be applied to my practicum population and topic: Structured Observation and Assessment of Practice (SOAP), Competency Assessment Tool (CAT), Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), and Nursing Competencies Questionnaire (NCQ) (Wu, Enskar, Lee, & Wang, 2015). The SOAP is a six-hour evaluation of clinical knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that every nursing student should possess (Levett-Jones, Gersbach, Arthur, & Roche, 2011). SOAP covers the following areas: provision of nursing care that is consistent with safety and efficiency requirements, oral communication skills, documentation skills, legal and ethical aspects of practice (Wu et al., 2015). The CAT is based on the behavioral, generic, holistic, and integrated approaches to competence (Anema & McCoy, 2011).

The areas covered by the CAT include a holistic approach to nursing practice and health care, professional ethical practice, interpersonal relationships, management of health care, personal and professional development (Anema & McCoy, 2011). The OSCE model of assessment has been developed to test the following competencies: clinical examination, medical procedures, communication skills, documentation skills, and exercise prescription among others (Levett-Jones et al., 2011). It provides students with a learning experience in an authentic and dynamic environment. The NCQ tool is based on Six-D Scale and “a measure developed by Deback and Mentkowski” (Wu et al., 2015, p. 353). The NCQ form includes the following areas: leadership, professional development, assessment, planning, cognitive ability, intervention, social participation, and ego strength (Wu et al., 2015).

The following didactic assessment and evaluation tools could be applied to my practicum population and topic: checklists, rating scales, essays, and journals. Checklists could be used for the evaluation of psychomotor skills related to patient care procedures and activities. An evaluator could easily assess checklists on a pass/fail scale (Anema & McCoy, 2011). Rating scales are commonly applied for assessment of various criteria of a student’s performance. Every scale has “a minimum required performance for each element” of a particular task (Anema & McCoy, 2011, p. 144). Essays are a popular assessment tool that allows a student to demonstrate their synthesis, analysis, writing, and critical thinking skills. They are usually being assessed with the help of holistic criteria. Journals are used for didactic assessment and evaluation of learning. They help students to demonstrate the integration of knowledge. (Anema & McCoy, 2011).

Taking into consideration the fact that proposed didactic and clinical assessment and evaluation tools could be applied to a wide range of aspects of nursing care including professional, ethical, and legal dimensions, it could be argued that all of them meet objectives, learning activities, and assignments developed for the practicum project. Figure 1 shows clinical and didactic assessment and evaluation tools that have been chosen for this assignment.

Figure 1: Clinical and Didactic Assessment and Evaluation Tools.

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Clinical Assessment and Evaluation Tools Didactic Assessment and Evaluation Tools
SOAP Checklists
CAT Rating scales
OSCE Essays
NSQ Journals


Anema, M., & McCoy, J. (2011). Competency-based nursing education (1st ed.). New York, NY: Springer.

Cherry, B., & Jacob, S. (2011). Contemporary nursing (1st ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Duffy, J. (2013). Professional practice models in nursing. New York, NY: Sage.

Kenner, C., & Lott, J. (2013). Comprehensive Neonatal Nursing Care (5th ed.). New York, NY: Springer.

Levett-Jones, T., Gersbach, J., Arthur, C., & Roche, J. (2011). Implementing a clinical competency assessment model that promotes critical reflection and ensures nursing graduates’ readiness for professional practice. Nurse Education in Practice, 11(1), 64-69.

Wu, X., Enskar, K., Lee, C., & Wang, W. (2015). A systematic review of clinical assessment for undergraduate nursing students. Nurse Education Today, 35(1), 347-359.

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