This series of blogs will take us into a hypothetical evaluation setting. I will discuss an overview of the evaluation setting, explain the purpose of the evaluation, a result of the evaluation process, provide recommendations and wrap up with a conclusion. This exercise is highly practical for those who will be responsible for conducting or hiring others to conduct evaluations, particularly in the context of higher education.


In this hypothetical situation, the Oklahoma University and the Veteran Administration teaching hospitals formed a partnership to try out the dedicated educational units model [DEU] with the goal of ensuring program graduates have the nursing skills and competencies to meet the health care needs of the population. The college is located in a growing multicultural community that includes African-American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans. This growth is in part due to the low cost of living in the area and employment opportunities in the entertainment and energy industries. The State is also host to two major military bases, a regional VA center and its subsidiaries, multiple colleges, and universities which attract local, out of state, and international students. Oklahoma is also part of the breadbasket of the United States which attracts a number of migrant workers and Oklahoma City in particular plays a central role in transportation with two major highways passing through the city.

Evaluation Problem

The evaluation of nursing students in the clinical setting is a challenging aspect of nursing education. This is compounded by the fact that even though hospital environments have drastically changed over the last 25 years, clinical nursing education has not (Beeman, 2001). A brief research of the literature paints the picture that a thorough, detailed evaluation of students’ clinical performance is often a laborious undertaking, time-intensive, but an important process none-the-less (Beeman, 2001; Sander & Trible, 2008). When considering that most nursing schools give a grade for didactic content and a pass/fall grade for clinical, this pass/fail grade represents the difficulty in quantifying students’ success in incorporating application of knowledge, interpersonal skills, decision making, and psychomotor skills into their beginning level practice (Sportsman, 2010).

The literature highlights collaborative educational partnerships offering promising strategies to diminish the nursing faculty shortage, educate more students, and provide a stable, rich learning environment. The DEU model and the modified preceptorships model are two of these newly developed educational clinical evaluation models. As part of these models, baccalaureate nursing (BSN) students are immersed in real-life experiences under the direct supervision of staff nurses.

Due to how challenging it is currently to evaluate nursing students in the clinical setting, new models of clinical education, such as the DEU and the modified preceptorships, have added to the challenges inherent in evaluating how students apply the theories and skills they learn in the classroom and laboratory to actual patients in real life settings. One problem is that newer models of clinical education use a team-based approach involving nursing staff who serve as mentors to students. However, oftentimes staff nurses have not received training in student evaluations. Another problem with newer models of clinical evaluation is seen where mentor evaluations are needed for input or for clinical performance grades and there is a discrepancy between the mentor and nurse educators evaluation of the student. The Dean of the nursing department initiated the electronic clinical evaluation tool to compare the level of agreement between nursing instructors and mentors in student clinical evaluations using the DEU model and will be the primary recipient of the report when the evaluation is completed.

Evaluation Type to Address the Problem and Reason for this Preference

The clinical evaluation tool that will be administered online is preferred in this hypothetical situation to investigate whether the program caused demonstrable effects and to compare the level of agreement between nursing instructors and mentors in student clinical evaluations using the DEU. The reason for using this clinical evaluation tool is that it is based on competencies in the essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 1998). Another advantage of using the DEU is using a percentage number as part of the student clinical grade instead of the former pass-fail grade (Sander & Trible, 2008).

Purpose and participants in Evaluation

The purpose of the evaluation is to compare the level of agreement between nursing instructors and mentors in student clinical evaluations with the DEU model of clinical education. Under the DEU model sophomores, juniors, seniors, and second-degree nursing students will be paired with specially trained nurse mentors on an intensive care unit, a medical-surgical unit, and a post-operative and perioperative unit. The mentors are full-time nurses who are all female. All nursing instructors are also female with masters or doctorate degrees. There is a mixture of senior and new instructors. All new instructors have at least one year of clinical teaching experience. The instructor role will be facilitative in providing support and oversight of mentors and students. Each week the nurse mentors and instructors will use an online evaluation tool to evaluate student’s clinical performance. This clinical evaluation tool is based on recommendations from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (2009). The scores from the clinical evaluation tool will be used as data by faculty when preparing end-of-term performance grades.

Vision and Philosophy

The vision and philosophy of the organization are dedicated to conducting quality and useful evaluations in the belief that evaluation is most successful when it is conducted by teams of organization members who have different experiences and responsibilities to the program or service being evaluated (H. Preskill & Catsambas, 2006). The goal of the evaluation program is for staff nurses to develop into the role of clinical teachers and to express confidence in evaluating and monitoring nursing students; whether the students are starting their clinical rotation or are transitioning into professional practice. In addition, the DEU model serves as a bridge between education and practice that results in pride, ownership, and professional growth for all stakeholders involved.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (1998). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Beeman, R. Y. (2001). New partnerships between education and practice: Precepting junior nursing students in the acute care setting. Journal of Nursing Education, 40(3), 132-134.

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. (2009). Standards for accreditation of baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. Retrieved from:

DeMeester, D. A. (2012). The meaning of the lived experience of nursing faculty on a dedicated education unit. (3553635 Ph.D.), University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Ann Arbor.

Sander, R., & Trible, K. A. (2008). The virtual clinical evaluation tool. Journal of Nursing Education, 47(1), 33-36.

Sportsman, S. R. N. P. (2010). Competency Education and Validation in the United States: What Should Nurses Know? Nursing Forum, 45(3), 140-149.

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