Assessment of learning can be a meaningful tool for teachers and students during a course to provide feedback to the student about the type and quality of work that is being completed in the course and for the instructor to find areas where the student is having difficulties and so additional materials can be provided or the course modified. The aim of this paper is to define assessment and critical thinking skills, and then review a State University course and suggest different assessments that could be used to demonstrate learning. Theoretical Foundations of Nursing will be the course reviewed, as it is the only course I have previously taken, and therefore the only course which I have assess to the curriculum.
Critical thinking is recognized by accrediting bodies as an outcome for graduates of bachelor and master’s level programs, but no consensus exits on its definition and measurements (Ali, Bantz, & Siktberg, 2005, p. 90). Some critical thinking “descriptors are: confidence, contextual perspective, flexibility, inquisitiveness, intellectual integrity, intuition, open-mindedness, perseverance, and reflection. In addition, individuals who think critically have the ability to use the cognitive skills of analyzing, applying standards, discriminating, seeking information, reasoning logically, and transforming knowledge (Scheffer & Rubenfeld, 2000) (Ali, Bantz, & Siktberg, 2005, p. 90).
Assessment strategies should be integrated into the curriculum so that critical thinking skills can be assessed throughout the course and not just at the end of the course. Critical thinking projects will take concepts from a broad range and apply these to local clinical contexts, “the assignment then challenges the student to reflect/adjust/evaluate the care” (Price, 1997, p. 157), thereby requiring the student to use critical thinking skills. Projects that are then shared with other students provide a method of further learning by collaboration. “Assessment strategies should be designed so that students apply the course material to their own lives, motivating them to think through and analyze the content for themselves” (Bassendowski & Salgado, 2005). The authors go on to encourage instructors to develop new assessment strategies, which utilize technology available today, rather than to use papers which can easily be plagiarized from the ease of internet sources (Bassendowski & Salgado, 2005, p. 9).
Theoretical Foundations of Nursing- N505-10A utilized the following assessments; weekly assignments, final project, and class participation. Class participation was assessed by online discussion of questions which were posted by the instructor. Guidelines for discussion were posted in the syllabus which included general rules for discussion, grading criteria for discussion which included; quantity of participation, frequency of participation, quality of information, critical thinking and netiquette. Discussion questions were posted at the...