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Student Assessment in Nursing Education

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According to Campbell (2012), numerous nurse scholars that conducted studies at the time that the article was created very often utilized a set of traditional methods in order to conduct research; however, the author stresses that these nurses were unaware of a wide range of new analytical tools which had been developed and could prove extremely useful both in theoretical and practical studies. In particular, the author states that a number of these tools could allow for the evaluation of the clinical significance of the results instead of simply assessing their statistical significance. In addition, the scholar stresses that these new methods are capable of permitting for lowering the magnitude of both systematic biases and random errors. It is the belief of Campbell (2012) that one area which could be considerably improved by the implementation of these new tools is that which is related to the problem of psychometric assessment. More specifically, the author proposes that the Family Impact of Pain Scale, which is an innovative instrument that could be utilized for producing better explanations of systems related to the family of a patient, thus possibly improving patient outcomes (Campbell, 2012).

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On the other hand, the article by Chen, Farmer, Barber, and Wayman (2012) supplies a report of a study that was aimed at evaluating an instrument for assessing the satisfaction of nursing students with their educational programs. The tool considered in the article was labeled the Nursing Student Satisfaction Scale (NSSS). The authors measured this instrument in a number of ways; more specifically, they conducted a pilot test, as well as a three-year longitudinal study; in addition, exploratory factor analysis was carried out in order to group the questions into factors. Three factors were obtained via the factor analysis. Both the pilot study and the three-year longitudinal study showed that the tool “demonstrated sound psychometric properties”; it is stated that the tested method supplies a theory-based approach to assessing the satisfaction of nursing students which is based on theory (Chen et al., 2012, p. 369).

The study carried out by Redmond, Hartigan-Rogers, and Cobbett (2012) was aimed at comparing a number of assessment tools that are widely utilized in nursing education institutions. More specifically, the instruments considered by the authors are multiple-choice questions, which are a very widespread method of assessing nursing students. Redmond et al. (2012) evaluated the psychometric characteristics of multiple-choice questions with three options and multiple-choice questions with four options. It was unveiled that the results of the two tests did not differ significantly; in particular, no statistically significant differences were found in the difficulty of the tests, in the mean exam scores of students, or in the item discrimination. The authors conclude that the three options multiple-choice questions can be used for student assessment and that they might be preferable to the more traditional four options questions, because it is easier for educators to create the former types of quizzes, for they only have to develop two (not three) wrong but plausible answers to the included questions (Redmond et al., 2012).

The study by Schwartz (2014) is devoted to the notion of flipped classrooms, that is, a method of delivering educational courses in which students watch video recordings of lectures at home while doing tasks that resemble the traditional homework in the classrooms. This method might prove rather effective due to the fact that it allows for students’ being not simply passive listeners in the classrooms but active participants in the process of learning. The author describes his own experience of flipping a course in statistics, which was delivered to a group of Ph.D. students in nursing (Schwartz, 2014). It is stated that during an incorporated 4-credit flipped course, it was possible for the educator not only to provide the learners with all the standard materials that he usually had supplied his students with during two 3-credit courses without overloading the learners but also to add some additional materials, which would give the learners significant benefits in the future (Schwartz, 2014, p. 205). The author concludes that the implementation of this course delivery method allowed for considerably improving the depth of the learning that might not have been achieved had the author decided to employ the traditional instructional method (Schwartz, 2014).

Methods for Evaluating Assignments

There exist a number of different assignment types that nursing students might carry out for the purpose of learning. These include, but are not limited to, essays, health care plans, laboratory assignments, group projects, and so on. All these kinds of assignments need to be evaluated properly and objectively, for which purpose there exists a variety of assessment methods (Oermann & Gaberson, 2014).

For example, any papers written by students might be evaluated using a rubric (Oermann & Gaberson, 2014). These include not only essays but also health care plans, some laboratory assignments which are reported on paper, etc. Rubrics are tables which include criteria that describe the requirements for the students’ papers, and a rating scale; for each element of the scale, an explanation is provided that elaborates how the degree of achieving a particular criterion will be evaluated. Rubrics can be used to evaluate virtually any papers, and they are also useful because they provide the student with a detailed explanation of what is expected from them.

An important part of the learning process is the progress tests that are given to students throughout the course (Gardner, Kline, & Bresciani, 2014). These may include multiple-choice questions, multiple response questions, true-false questions, open questions, and matching exercises (Oermann & Gaberson, 2014). The true-false questions might be considered the easiest type of questions, whereas multiple-choice questions are more difficult. Even more challenging are the multiple response questions and matching exercises. Open questions may be viewed as the most difficult types of tests, for the students gain no hints about the possible answers. However, open questions might allow the learners to “maneuver” and respond indirectly when a direct response is needed. The kind of questions used should also be selected by the educator according to the types of materials that are assessed. For instance, statistical or mathematical tests might consist of multiple-choice questions with only one correct answer, whereas in physiology, open or multiple response questions could be used.

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Ensuring Equal Assessment

In the described situation, it is important that the educators grade students similarly in order to make sure that each of them has attained at least a minimal level of the required knowledge; it is also important due to the considerations of student fairness (Gardner et al., 2014).

To maximize the degree of similarity of evaluation, it is important that the educators do not know whose papers they are grading so that they are not biased while evaluating them. The rubric also needs to be rather detailed, and it has to focus more on the formal aspects of the work (e.g., the citation style guidelines, the correctness of claims, the factual precision, and so on). Whereas it is impossible to achieve absolutely equal grading, a large part of the mark should assess the objective aspects of the students’ works, for this will permit the teachers to more objectively evaluate the papers.


Campbell, S. (2012). Reliability of psychometric tools. Nurse Researcher, 20(2), 4-5.

Chen, H. C., Farmer, S., Barber, L., & Wayman, M. (2012). Development and psychometric testing of the nursing student satisfaction scale. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33(6), 369-373.

Gardner, M. M., Kline, K. A., & Bresciani, M. J. (2014). Assessing student learning in the community and two-year college. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Oermann, M. H., & Gaberson, K. B. (2014). Evaluation and testing in nursing education (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Redmond, S. P., Hartigan-Rogers, J. A., & Cobbett, S. (2012). High time for a change: Psychometric analysis of multiple-choice questions in nursing. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 9(1), 1-16.

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Schwartz, T. A. (2014). Flipping the statistics classroom in nursing education. Journal of Nursing Education, 53(4), 199-206.

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