Laxton, Julie, Dagg, Paul, Hargreaves, Janet, Laverick, Duane and Mitchell, Carrie (2012) Competent to practice : evaluation of an electronic self assessment tool for student and graduate professionals. In: The Academic Practice and Technology (APT) Conference: Employer Engagement in a Digital Age, 4th July 2012, University of Greenwich. (Unpublished)

The Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies for health and social care professions identify competent practice at the point of qualification (or soon after) essential. This project aims to critically evaluate an electronic “Competence in Practice” self assessment tool developed initially an a research instrument as part of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning called Assessment and Learning in Practice Settings (

The Competency in Practice Assessment tool (CiPA) asks a series of questions against which participants self-rate their preparedness for practice. The five universities and 16 health professions involved consulted extensively to ensure an acceptable tool was developed which was then calibrated and validated using RASCH analysis (Harrington et al 1997, Slade et al 2011).

The second phase of its development created software that is used as a formative exercise to rate confidence and perceived competence in practice. The freely available package ( responds with feedback to individual users on their self evaluation, facilitating reflection and guided supervision. An innovative partnership with 14 pre and post qualifying health and social care students and 2 computing students undertook the work as a paid project as well as actively participating in workshops and conferences.

The third phase has been to seek ethical approval to evaluate the use of the tool; it is this work that we wish to present. In collaboration with two further computing students an online evaluation has been launched to explore its effectiveness. We are particularly interested in discovering the range of professions using CiPA, and the ways in which it is being utilised. Digital competence is essential for health professionals; in the UK much ongoing professional development, as well as standard induction is now on-line, facilitating ease of access and reducing time away from essential services for practitioners. However, the effectiveness of these resources is diminished if practitioners either do not, or cannot use them. The CiPA tool is a simple, self evaluation and feedback tool that can be used individually or with a mentor/ supervisor. This use of the tool not only may benefit individual people, but may also facilitate further on line self development.

Through promoting lifelong learning and Continuing Professional Development CiPA can provide valuable support for pre qualifying and graduate professionals. It is therefore particularly pertinent to identify digitally enabled processes that can be developed in prequalifying education that facilitate transition into practice.

There are many ‘self help’ tools so disseminating and promoting CiPA is a challenge. In addition choosing to have a widely applicable tool has advantages, but may lose some of the specificity that a tool designed for a single profession might have. This evaluation is an attempt to better understand these difficulties.

An unquestionable strength has been the continued involvement of students in the design, delivery, promotion and evaluation of this work. The strategy, and lessons learned from this partnership are of relevance beyond this project.

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