Introduction: The Purpose of Evaluation and Related Issues
People need standards. Even when these standards are too high, they are still, crucial for the development of society; unless there are certain levels of assessment, there is nothing more to strive for, which leads to stagnation. Moreover, in such spheres as nursing, the lack or inconsistency of standards can lead to the untimely death of a patient. Therefore, the existing measures must be evaluated accordingly. Taking a closer look at the Evaluation Grid provided for the nursing staff will help understand whether the current standards suffice to help the nursing staff deliver top-notch services.
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Completeness and Relevance of the Information for Learning Assessment
First and foremost, the level of the grid completeness must be considered. It is important to mention that the grid has its limitations; one of the most evident is the limitation in space. The room for making plans is rather small; therefore, the information must be concise, specific and at the same time embrace the relevant aspects. The first five columns seem to provide ample information in a relatively short form.
However, when it comes to follow-up plans, the section under the name “Maintain & Monitor or Improve” immediately falls into the eye. To start with, the instructions are very repetitive: “Revise curriculum as needed,” which erases the uniqueness of the plan. Moreover, it is not clear how to detect when amendments to the plan must be made. The column “By Whom, How & When” does not clarify much either; the means of making changes have not been stated. Though minor nitpicks, the issue concerning the “Follow-up Plans” needs revision.
Before proceeding to the consideration of the weak aspects of the grid (if there are any), it is also required to check the relevance of the information provided in the assessment grid. The data represented in the grid is admittedly relevant; moreover, the fact that the actions described in the grid are to be taken annually, the information becomes somewhat timeless, meaning that it can be applied literally whenever needed. As a result, the information represented in the grid can be viewed as a guide for the traditional course of actions within a certain group of students. For example, such guidelines as “delete outdated practices and add new practices. Action plan based on root cause analysis” can and, quite honestly, must be carried out regularly. Therefore, the evaluation grid seems flawless in terms of the relevance of the information that it provides.
Weak Areas/Areas not Addressed to: What Could Have Used More Focus
Giving the credit to where it belongs, one must admit that the provided grid offers a fairly clear structure of evaluation and can be used as a guideline for establishing the action plan in the field of nursing. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the plan seem much weaker than the other ones. As it has been mentioned above, the “Follow-up Plans” section could have been articulated more clearly. To make matters more complicated, in the section “Reports and Recommendations,” the reasons for the recommendations have not been stated. While the suggested course of action seems reasonable, certain elements included in the recommendations section still need commentaries. For instance, the application of analysis for nursing practices is a necessity, yet the choice of a root cause analysis has not been explained.
Other rubrics could also have been more specific. For example, the fact that the standards for the nursing practice are supposed to undergo a systematic annual check does not seem to comply with the rules established for a nursing plan. As Gard, Flannigan and Cluskey claim, the timeline should be split into shorter periods:
Developing a timeline to facilitate the collection of data for the development, maintenance, and revision of the program evaluation plan is recommended. […] The timeline should be developed to fit the nursing program’s academic calendar (e.g., semesters, quarters, trimesters)” (Gard, Flannigan & Cluskey, 2004, 177)
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Another minor drawback of the given evaluation grid concerns the numerical information – or to be more exact, its absence. Although in most cases, such information is not necessarily required for the grid, there is a particular aspect that needs at least approximate numbers; “Criteria, Outcomes or Benchmarks,” intersecting with “Support Systems,” could have used exact information on the minimal number of resources. Instead, the evaluation grid states that sufficient human (and other) resources are available for the students. While the given issue cannot be considered a major flaw, some clarity concerning the number of resources would be appropriate.
The Grid as a Key Assessment Tool: Adapting the Grid to a Program
No matter how well written and generally reasonable an evaluation plan might seem, its effects are still a question as long as its stays a concept. To figure out whether the instructions work and what can be improved, one has to put the postulates of the plan to practice. Therefore, it is necessary to decide whether the given system is going to work as an assessment tool, comparing it at the same time to what is considered an ideal nursing assessment tool.
According to what the existing sources say, a perfect nursing assessment tool must incorporate the use of both independent and dependent variables (Shulker, Conjeski & Hamilton, 2011). Thus, the evaluation tool can be considered objective. Since the grid includes the check of both the outer and the inner factors, i.e., the infrastructure and the employees, it can be considered that the grid meets the basic demands. However, according to Cervo et al. (2007), the tool should also include a measurement system, which the given grid lacks. In addition, the grid could have included the feedback from alumni (Keating, 2006).
Thus, a more objective evaluation could be achieved. Finally, I would like to consider the option of managing the curriculum content as a student. Though the given idea might sound unrealistic, it does provide for more objectivity and a customized learning process that presupposes adopting a unique approach to each student.
All in all, the given grid can be used as an assessment tool once minor corrections are introduced and a more detailed plan concerning the improvements of the nursing services is provided.
Conclusion: Recommendations and Further Improvements
Even though the program could use some improvements, there are many good ideas in it, and these ideas can and must be used to create an evaluation system for a specific program. While the follow-up plan could use more details and be more creative, the grid still offers a strong and at the same time flexible system of evaluation, which is important when working in a mixed group with students who have different skills and require a unique approach each. Therefore, it can be concluded that the provided evaluation grid can be used as a means to assess the students’ skills in Nursing.
Cervo, F. A. et al. (2007). Use of the Certified Nursing Assistant Pain Assessment Tool (CPAT) in nursing home residents with dementia. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 22, 112–119.
Gard, C. L., Flannigan, P. N., & Cluskey, M. (2004). Program evaluation: An ongoing systematic process. National League for Nursing, 25(4), 176–179.
Keating, S. B. (2006). Curriculum development and evaluation in nursing. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
Shulker, Conjeski & Hamilton (2011). Incorporating the WHO FRAX assessment tool into nursing practice. American Journal of Nursing, 111(8), 59–62.