D1: Assessment Theory
A teacher’s understanding of the learning process is crucial in the effective differentiation of instruction. The underlying ability of the teacher to provide knowledge day after day depends upon the knowledge and skills gained from education and practice. Theories of learning serve as the key source of knowledge used by instructors to teach students and perform assessments. These theories ensure that the teacher has a firm understanding of the cognitive components of learning and a rich repertoire of strategies to improve the learning process (Mukhalalati & Taylor, 2019). For example, the instructor can only engage, motivate, and teach learners if they understand the learning process and how to meet each of the six components of the learning process. Learning theories provide insight into how to improve the student’s acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and behaviors.
The choice of the formative and summative assessments presented in the community health nursing course was guided by the constructivist learning theory. Constructivism is a theory stating that learners do not acquire knowledge and skills by passively perceiving it but rather construct new knowledge and understanding through experience and social discourse (Epp et al., 2021). The student does not know things by passively taking in information but by relating the new information with past experiences. During learning, the student reflects upon their experiences and in return, they build their learning and add new details to the pre-existing knowledge. There are three key points that the constructivist learning theory emphasizes. Firstly, the instructor must understand that students learn best when engaged in learning experiences. Secondly, learning is a social process that should involve students working together with the instructor to build knowledge. Lastly, the instructor’s goals should be to provide experiences that facilitate the construction of knowledge.
The formative assessment part focused on the module discussing the purpose of the community health nurse. The constructivist learning theory guided the instruction of this module by ensuring the teacher facilitated interaction between students. For example, I used the online interaction session to organize students into small groups to discuss and share answers about the impact of nurses on the community. The instructions given ensured that students interacted and shared their responses with the instructor. On another aspect, I made a PowerPoint presentation and allowed students to discuss a case study that could allow them to understand the roles of community health nurses. This approach aligns with the constructivist learning theory which stipulates that students learn best when engaged in learning experiences (Mukhalalati & Taylor, 2019). The use of small group discussions and online interactive sessions represents an active learning process emphasized in the constructivism theory.
The summative performance assessment part focused on the module discussing community assessment. During instruction, the students were presented with both primary sources of material and manipulative materials. Unlike the traditional method that uses textbooks as the only source of information, this module allowed students to use roadmaps, geographical data, and county health ranking websites to identify the social determinants of health and at-risk populations. In the second part, I ensured to actively engage students in learning through the use of learning strategies like concept mapping and classroom discussions. For example, the students were allowed to individually develop concept maps and present them to colleagues. This module fulfilled the concepts of the constructivist learning theory whereby the content supported students’ growth and success in activities (Epp et al., 2021). The assessment ensured that learning materials were accessible and selected by students when necessary. The role of the instructor during this course was to guide students in designing concept maps, discussing findings with students, and answering questions directly or via email.
The summative objective assessment part focused on the module discussing the provision of education to the community during an epidemic. I believe the constructivist learning theory best guided the approach to this assessment compare to the others. Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic was selected as the topic of focus because every student had prior knowledge about the outbreak. A brief PowerPoint presentation before the use of simulation-based learning ensured that the instructor elicited prior knowledge regarding COVID-19. The simulation-based learning approach was used as an active learning strategy to engage students and improve their practical skills in the prevention of epidemics. According to the constructivist learning theory, learners acquire knowledge by devising solutions to problems (Mukhalalati & Taylor, 2019). The students were also allowed to share knowledge and experiences via group discussions after finishing the simulations. Discussion of their findings ensured the improvement of communication and collaboration which also promoted cooperative learning.
D2: Potential Implementation Barriers
The online learning environment can be challenging for students and teachers because of the technological approach to learning. While face-to-face learning is being replaced by online learning, assessments that worked traditionally need to be modified or replaced because of the observed barriers (Gillett-Swan, 2017). The first challenge that is likely to affect the learning process during the formative assessment is cheating. The students will be tasked with filling in the blanks to assess their understanding of the roles of community health nurses. Unlike the traditional environment where the teacher can easily monitor students to avoid cheating, the online environment may encourage cheating and ineffective assessment of students. To minimize this challenge, the assignment will be completed via a link that will only provide one-time access to the assignment. Additionally, the students will submit their answers at the end of the lesson giving them less time to refer to their course materials for answers.
Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning at the end of the course by comparing the student’s performance against some standard. One of the most important aspects of summative assessments is the delivery of feedback to ensure students know areas that require improvement. The online learning environment may be faced with the challenge of delivering feedback and addressing the individual needs of students upon completion of the course (Gillett-Swan, 2017). For example, the summative performance assessment will require students to use concept mapping to analyze the social determinants of health affecting their community. Students with difficulties mapping the concepts may face the challenge of understanding how it is done. To minimize the challenge of feedback delivery, the student will be allowed to schedule a meeting with the instructor to seek clarification on areas that may be difficult to handle.
The summative objective assessment discussed may also be faced with security issues and cheating when using the online learning environment. This assessment functions to identify the student’s comprehension of knowledge and gaps that may need to be addressed. Administering the tests online may encourage students to cheat and give a false impression to the instructor about their understanding of the course (Gillett-Swan, 2017). To minimize this issue, students will be allowed to access the multiple-choice test only once. Additionally, measures will be taken to prevent students from clicking on other websites during the test and those found to cheat will be automatically disqualified. These security measures will ensure that students remain honest and provide answers to the best of their knowledge with assistance from the course materials.
D3: Importance of Authenticity
Performance-based learning and assessment represent a learning system that allows students to demonstrate knowledge and skills by relating to real-world situations. This type of assessment measures the student’s ability to apply skills and knowledge gained in class to solve real-world issues. Authenticity is among the key features that guide performance-based assessments during learning. This feature enables students to create a tangible and useful product that can be shared with others (Billings & Halstead, 2020). To ensure authentic learning, the student-centered approach must be used where the class is up and moving rather than sitting and listening to lectures.
The most important feature of authentic learning is that it allows students to apply what is learned in class to their practice areas. Authenticity also promotes reflective practices in learning and enables students to solve similar problems if encountered during practice (Billings & Halstead, 2020). For example, the performance assessment task in the assessing the community module allowed students to interact with the county health rankings and roadmaps to identify at-risk populations and SDOH affecting their communities. While authentic learning allows students to apply knowledge and skills, inauthentic assessments only test the student’s ability to master content or recall information. For example, the summative objective assessment utilizing multiple choice questions will only test the student’s mastery of content about epidemics and vulnerable populations.
D4: Objective Assessment Outcomes
Low test-level reliability. Test reliability represents the consistency of an assessment item to measure a certain outcome. A reliable test can elicit the expected response from the students and show the instructor what areas need to be improved. Low test-level reliability in objective assessments can be caused by a lack of clear instructions about answering questions or the presence of very tricky questions in the test (Billings & Halstead, 2020). Addressing this issue will require the instructor to administer the same test more than once to identify the tricky questions. The instructor can also perform item analysis to remove ambiguity that could be causing inconsistencies observed.
Low item discrimination. Item discrimination is used to measure how well a test item is understood by the students. A test item will demonstrate low discrimination if every student gets it wrong or it is too easy for every student to get it right (Billings & Halstead, 2020). The main cause of low item discrimination is the use of test questions that measure a wide range of knowledge. One of the ways to address issues with low item discrimination is to administer tests when the content is not too large or subsequent removal of the test items from the objective assessment.
Low pass rates. Just like any other measuring instrument, assessments can provide limited accuracy. Low pass rates are observed when the majority of the students fail to attain the required minimums during an assessment. One of the causes for this problem is ineffective instruction that does not allow students to understand or recall content 9Billings & Halstead, 2020). Low pass rates can also be caused by the setting of too difficult questions. Addressing this challenge will require a change of learning strategies, the provision of more learning resources to students, and using an item discrimination index to assess the complexity of difficult questions (Billings & Halstead, 2020). Despite the use of these strategies, addressing low pass rates can be an issue because of the variance in student skills and understanding.
D5: Improving Teaching Strategies and Student Learning
Both summative objective and performance assessments provide instructors with an opportunity to improve teaching strategies and student learning. The performance assessment results demonstrate how well students can apply what is learned in class to real-world situations. The instructor can use these results to include more active learning strategies like simulations and problem-based learning to ensure students apply knowledge and gain skills. Additionally, performance assessments allow students to set goals and use other learning strategies like discussions to gain more understanding from colleagues. Objective assessment results can improve teaching and student learning by ensuring more time is set to study course materials and seek clarification from the teacher. The results from the assessment allow the instructor to add more learning resources to increase variety or change assessment methods to address difficult areas of the course. Lastly, performance and objective assessments improve reflective practice that encourages students to learn more and identify areas that can be improved during learning.
Billings, D. M. G., & Halstead, J.A. (2020). Teaching in nursing: A guide for faculty (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
Epp, S., Reekie, M., Denison, J., de Bosch Kemper, N., Willson, M., & Marck, P. (2021). Radical transformation: Embracing constructivism and pedagogy for an innovative nursing curriculum. Journal of Professional Nursing, 37(5), 804-809. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.profnurs.2021.06.007
Gillett-Swan, J. (2017). The challenges of online learning: Supporting and engaging the isolated learner. Journal of Learning Design, 10(1), 20-30. https://www.jld.edu.au/article/view/293.html
Mukhalalati, B. A., & Taylor, A. (2019). Adult learning theories in context: A quick guide for healthcare professional educators. Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development, 6, 2382120519840332.
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