An exploration of student nurses experiences of formative assessment

Lorraine Duers, Norrie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The idea that formative assessment has the potential to prepare students, not only to succeed in summative assessments during the course, but also in the world beyond the classroom [Melland, H., Volden, C., 1998. Classroom assessment: linking teaching and learning. Journal of Nursing Education 37(6), 275–277] fuelled the desire to explore student nurses experiences of being assessed formatively. Focus group discussion, within a UK Higher Education setting, captured the holistic, dynamic and individual experiences student nurses (n = 14) have of formative assessment. Ethical approval was obtained. Findings from three separate focus group discussions indicate that lecturers do not use the term “formative assessment” in their communication with the student nurses; student preparation and effort is greater when assessment is for summative purposes; oral feedback is preferable to written feedback which can, at times, be illegible and utilise unfamiliar vocabulary; lecturer comments are regarded as being more valuable than grades; student nurses are not being prepared for the critical feedback associated with peer review and they may, therefore, be vulnerable to the process and outcome of peer review. Thus, the UK centric focus of this small qualitative research study need not detract from its ability to add to the global knowledge base on formative assessment in nursing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654 – 659.
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Formative assessment
  • Student nurses
  • Education
  • Formative evaluation


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