The Lived Experience of Nursing Students With Formative Assessment Formally Embedded in Clinical Courses: A Transcendental Phenomenological Study
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The potential of formative assessment (FA) for informing learning in classroom-based nursing courses is clearly established in the literature; however, research on FA in clinical courses remains scarce. This inquiry explored the lived experience of nursing students using transcendental phenomenology and described the phenomenon of being assessed in clinical courses. The research question guiding the study was: How is the phenomenon of assessment experienced by nursing students when FA is formally embedded in clinical courses? Inherent in this question were the following issues: (a) the meaning of clinical experiences for nursing students, (b) the meaning of being assessed through FA, and (c) what it is like to be assessed when FA is formally embedded within clinical experiences. The noematic themes that illuminated the whatness of the participants’ experience were (a) enabled cognitive activity, (b) useful feedback, (c) freedom to be, (d) enhanced focus, (e) stress moderator, and (f) respectful mentorship. The noetic themes associated with how the phenomenon was experienced were related to bodyhood, temporality, spatiality, and relationship to others. The results suggest a fundamental paradigm shift from traditional nursing education to a more pervasive integration of FA in clinical courses so that students have time to learn before being graded on their practice. Furthermore, this inquiry and the literature consulted provide evidence that using cognitive science theory to inform and reform clinical nursing education is a timely option to address the repeated calls from nursing leaders to modernize nursing education. This inquiry contributes to reduce our reliance on assumptions derived from research on FA in nursing classrooms and provides evidence based on the reality of using formative assessment in clinical courses. Recommendations for future research are presented.