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Exploring assessment for learning during dietetic practice placements

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Abstract Background: 

Practice placement, which contributes to the development of professional skills and competencies, is an important component of dietetic pre-registration education in the UK. The assessment of practice placement impacts on students’ experience and progression; however, currently, limited evidence-based information about assessment methods and practice in dietetic placements exists. The present study aimed to investigate the assessment methods and practices utilised when providing pre-registration dietetic practice placements. Method: 

Using an online questionnaire survey of dietitians within Scottish National Health Service (NHS) dietetic departments, and a follow-on telephone interview with Lead Trainers, the present study explored the assessment methods utilised by dietitians as well as areas of variability within NHS Boards. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and relationships were assessed using the chi-square test, Kruskall–Wallis test and Spearmans correlation. Results: 

One hundred and eleven fully-completed questionnaires were analysed and fourteen departments participated in the follow-on telephone interview. Over 80% respondents had greater than 2 years of involvement in student training. To assess student performance, departments used between 5–16 and 6–16 assessment tools for placements B and C, respectively. Significant correlations between staff training and knowledge of how to apply assessment tools support a need for robust staff training in assessment matters. The majority (87%) of respondents positively favour standardisation of assessment via the development of national assessment tools. Conclusions: 

The findings obtained in the present study confirm that there is a wide variation in assessment practices by dietitians. The development of standardised assessments and tools within dietetic practice placements, in terms of parity in numbers and methods of assessment, would ensure equity and fairness for students.

Keywords: clinical competence; dietetics; education; national assessment tools; student placements

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK 2: Department for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment (DELTA), Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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