Assessment of simulated clinical skills and distance students: Can we do it better?

Stephane Bouchoucha, Anna Wikander, Catherine Wilkin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Australian universities have traditionally been able to supplement clinical education, for undergraduate nursing courses, delivered on placement with weekly clinical teaching in the simulated environment. The Objective Structured Clinical Assessment (OSCA) tool has been used in this simulated environment to assess clinical skills. Recently, however, online delivery of undergraduate nursing courses has become more common. The move from an internal mode of teaching to an online external mode is seen worldwide and poses challenges to staff and students as well as changing the teaching and learning culture of institutions ( Philip and Wozniak, 2009). This cultural shift and the resulting diminishing timeframe for students to acquire and practice simulated clinical skills imply that it may become necessary to rethink assessment forms such as the OSCA assessment.This study examines whether or not the OSCA tool developed by Bujack et al. (1991a) is the best tool to be used in this new context, where online teaching is supplemented by very short, annual, intensive periods of study. Skills acquisition theories dictate that time is required to produce an ideal skills acquisition environment ( Quinn, 2000) but the time constraints placed on students in such intensive periods of study could influence skills acquisition.This cross-sectional qualitative study used semi-structured interviews and focus groups to collect data. 65% of the nursing faculty participated in the study. The teaching of the Bachelor of Nursing (BN) occurred on two campuses and staff from both areas participated. This group of nurse academics was employed across the range of academic levels (from lecturer to professor) at the University. Data analysis followed a generic thematic analysis framework.Findings in this study show that there are a variety of attitudes and underpinning beliefs amongst staff in relation to the OSCAs. Doubts were raised in regard to the suitability of the use of the OSCA tool in this setting. It also became apparent during this study that the OSCA tool possibly serves purposes other than an assessment tool. 

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)944-948
    Number of pages5
    JournalNurse Education Today
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


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