2 Evaluating practice learning
As a mentor you are involved in evaluating your student’s learning. The importance of feedback from students has been discussed in Weeks 4–7; however, it is also important to assess student evaluations that are completed at the end of a placement period. You may have a bespoke evaluation form within your practice area, one that is relevant to all placement areas within your healthcare organisation, and/or the practice evaluation completed as a requirement of the relevant education provider.
The following activity asks you to consider what we mean by ‘evaluation’ and what you think are the important areas to evaluate.
Activity 2 Why evaluate?
- What does the term ‘evaluation’ mean to you?
- In a notebook, write down your thoughts on how you see your role as a mentor in the process of evaluating practice learning.
Evaluation can mean different things depending on the context, and you may have linked this to terms such as ‘assessment’ or ‘analysis’. Gopee (2011, p. 240) identifies various types of evaluation that you may encounter within your mentorship role:
- public evaluation: open evaluation of an activity by others
- private evaluation: self-evaluation by the person who performed the teaching
- external evaluation: evaluation by others outside the organisation
- internal evaluation: evaluation by departments or individuals inside the organisation
- continuous evaluation: ongoing evaluation
- episodic/intermittent evaluation: evaluation at set or specific times
- final evaluation: evaluation at the end of one or a series of activities
- case-specific evaluation: in-depth evaluation of a particular instance of an activity
- generalised or holistic evaluation: inviting and gaining overall impressions
- analytical evaluation: detailed evaluation that may include numerical data.
If discussed as a team, evaluating practice learning can be invaluable in identifying issues and potential improvement strategies. This might include you and other mentor colleagues, the link lecturer/tutor from the relevant education provider, the clinical manager, and the organisation education lead. The evaluation process needs to be honest and transparent, with all parties having an opportunity to discuss findings and put forward suggestions for improvement. It is important that discussions be held in a supportive environment and that engaging in a blame culture is avoided at all times. Areas of strength need to be recognised and celebrated, with areas for improvement planned carefully to achieve realistic targets. All resulting action plans need to be reviewed and re-evaluated. Kinnell and Hughes (2010) identify the process of evaluation as the four stages shown in Figure 2.
This model can be used to structure the evaluation process. Feedback is gathered from all relevant parties and scrutinised to review all comments made. An in depth discussion of these comments is required to highlight focus areas for improvement. Action points are then identified and implementation for change can be planned.
If you are completing these learning materials as part of an NMC mentor preparation programme, use the protected learning time allowed to discuss Activity 2 with your supervisor and formulate a new (or revise an existing) evaluation form for your practice area. Present this at your next practice team meeting or mentor forum to seek views and opinions for its potential use in your practice area. This can be included in your portfolio of evidence.