Does the seen examination promote or constrain student learning?

A Whelan, JM Brown

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


    Composite evaluation by one group of student nurses undertaking a pre-registration diploma nursing course within one university setting highlighted a general perception among respondents that they only participated in ‘rote’ learning to pass the examination. It appeared that little knowledge was retained or used in their nursing practice. Views of students and lecturers were sought on whether the prescribed assessment strategy of a ‘seen’ examination does in fact restrict student learning. A qualitative research methodology which adapted a phenomenological approach was used. Tape recorded semistructured interviews were undertaken from a purposive sample of four university lecturers and six pre-registration nursing students. Data was analysed using thematic analysis. The themes generated during analysis were: the advantages of the ‘seen’ examination, superficial learning, linking theory to practice, and the usefulness of other assessment strategies. There was an assumption made by lecturers that a number of students retained knowledge and information long enough to pass the ‘seen’ examination but not long enough to use it in their nursing practice. The overall impression from the majority of respondents interviewed in this study was that the assessment strategy of a ‘seen’ examination is valuable to enhance knowledge and skills. However, most lecturers who participated in the study felt sitting a ‘seen’ examination did not encourage ‘deep’ learning among students. They believed this form of assessment encouraged students to ‘rote’ learn and therefore learn in a ‘shallow’ way.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPractitioner Research in Higher Education (PRHE)
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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