Health Sciences

2013 Good Practice in Assessment award winners

The Assessment Committee and Learning and Teaching Centre have announced the 2013 Good Practice in Assessment award winners. This is the second year that the Good Practice in Assessment prize has been offered and it has attracted a large number of high quality entries. The assessment prize is a valuable vehicle for show-casing the excellent work being done at ACU.

We are really pleased to announce the prize winners from the Faculty of Health Sciences. We congratulate the winners and acknowledge all of those who applied.

• Assessment in the First Year: Dr Leigha Dark

In the recent Good Practice in Assessment Prize, Dr Leigha Dark and Ms Marie Atherton described their implementation of the unit SPHY104 Evidence Based Practice in Speech Pathology. The first year unit assists students to locate, organise, analyse and synthesise information for clinical reasoning and decision-making.

Leigha and Marie applied a developmental approach to the delivery of the unit, gradually grading the complexity of the information introduced and the critical thinking required of the students. They also actively collaborated with the Office of Student Success, Academic Skills Unit, Library and academics external to Speech Pathology in order to offer students in-class opportunities to develop specific knowledge and skills. Assessment tasks were designed to be ecologically valid measures of learning outcomes, whilst at the same time not disadvantaging students by expecting discipline-specific (speech pathology) clinical knowledge at such an early stage of their course.

The resulting unit is one in which collaborative delivery of theoretical knowledge, practical skills and discipline specific clinical content enables students to build an evidence-based foundation to their allied health career. The developmental, scaffolded approach to assessment tasks and an emphasis on clinically relevant behavioural outcomes, offers students an assessment experience that is fair, formative and clinically relevant.

• Assessment in a Capstone project: Dr Jane Butler

In the recent Good Practice in Assessment Prize, the teaching team consisted of Dr Jane Butler NTL/LIC Sydney, Dr Judy Hough LIC Brisbane. and Dr Marcella Danks Brisbane. They described how students evaluated their clinical reasoning skills in the unit PHTY304: Paediatric Physiotherapy Practice.

During the practical class sessions in PHTY304: Paediatric Physiotherapy Practice, students worked in small groups to analyse information presented in three case-based scenarios which represent ‘virtual’ paediatrics practice.

These practical classes were primarily student-led with support from tutors who were available to facilitate the learning process and translate concepts rather than to ‘teach’ or serve solely as information-givers. In their groups, students gathered and interpreted information, formed a hypothesis, determined their learning needs (what is understood, what needs to be researched), explored alternatives for diagnosis and intervention and subsequently made choices for action.

Students were encouraged to use prior learning and experience, as well as some preliminary provided resources, to comprehend and analyse the real-life scenarios. They were also required to source, compile, critique and synthesise additional resources in order to address the issues posed by the scenarios. Discussion of the scenarios in small groups not only identified the groups’ learning needs, but also enhanced their understanding while promoting exploration and debate of ideas.
As the focus of this unit of study was to enable students to develop their clinical reasoning skills, students were required to evaluate their perceptions of their clinical reasoning ability by completing a self-evaluation questionnaire at the end of each scenario. This questionnaire asked the student to reflect on their level of skill in this ability, and to consider how they felt they were able to meet the steps involved in the clinical reasoning process.  They were also asked to reflect on how they feel they could improve their clinical reasoning skills.  This self-evaluation did not form part of the summative assessment for this unit. Students received a group mark for their submitted compilation which was returned a week later with feedback. This timely feedback enabled students to reflect on their learning strategies prior to commencing the next scenario.

• Using ePortfolios to assess: Mr Stephen Guinea, Ms Elaine Rutherford and Ms Sharni Lavell

In the recent Good Practice in Assessment Prize, Mr Stephen Guinea, Ms Elaine Rutherford and Ms Sharni Lavell aimed to introduce and engage first year Bachelor of Nursing students in the use of the Mahara ePortfolio whilst making the process relevant for learning in professional practice. Incorporating the ePortfolio into an assessment task appeared to be the most effective way to ensure this engagement. To complete this assessment, students needed to know: how to use the Mahara ePortfolio software; the rationale for a professional portfolio; and the types of evidence considered appropriate. 

Throughout the semester, students completed professional practice activities embedded in the NRSG137 curriculum.  The outcomes of these (certificates of completion, quiz results, and reflections on journal articles) formed the evidence for the professional portfolio.

Students learned the relevant functions of the ePortfolio through weekly videos demonstrating one function of the Mahara ePortfolio and application in relation to the portfolio evidence collected for that week. Each video was embedded in a LEO Forum which provided an avenue to seek clarification from the lecturer or a fellow student when required.

Finally, the assessment criteria were provided to students in the Unit Outline. The requirements of this assessment task were purposefully kept very simple to encourage buy-in from students relating to the use of the ePortfolio and to accommodate variations in technology proficiency across the student cohort.

The success of this approach was evidenced through positive student feedback and a low number of students who demonstrated significant challenges in completing this assessment.

Mr Steve Guinea was also a receipient of the 2013 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.