Davies, Christopher S. and Lunn, Katherine (2009) The patient’s role in the assessment of students’ communication skills. Nurse Education Today, 29 (4). pp. 405-412. ISSN 0260-6917

The central focus of this study was to investigate the effects of the introduction of a new system of formative assessment on students’ perceptions of their communication skills, by recruiting patients to assess the student who provided their treatment on that day .The assessment tool detailed 12 aspects of communication and the patient ‘scored’ the student from 0 (representing very poor skills) to 10 (representing excellence). The patients then handed the completed form at the end of the treatment session to the student. This would then form part of their clinical portfolio for reflection and consideration.

A pilot scheme was implemented with the consent of staff, students and patients. Minor adjustments were made to the forms to clarify more precisely the point for assessment.

The communication visual analogue scale demonstrated a perceived improvement over the ten-week period 86.4% for the experienced students and 80% for the novoice students. The students who were interviewed all stated that they were comfortable with the patients assessing them and for some it made them feel more confident. Some students were surprised by the marks that the patients gave on some aspects of their communication, particularly pertaining to maintaining eye contact.

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