This year’s sudden switch to a remote teaching environment at NYU led me to re-examine the grading methods used in the Perioperative Nursing course I was assigned to teach for the Summer 2020 semester.
Although nursing education relies heavily on quantitative assessment methods, such as multiple choice tests in proctored environments, clinical performance appraisal is also essential, both in real time (e.g. in the hospital) and in high-fidelity clinical simulations. Since students couldn’t have a clinical practicum during the peak of the pandemic, there were no “live” opportunities to apply psychomotor skills, which are needed in many nursing courses.
As an alternative, we incorporated new forms of assessment: weekly in-class activities (using Zoom breakout rooms) and collaborative projects such as compiling fact sheets and writing short reflective medico-legal papers. These adaptations allowed students to engage in active learning scenarios in their own time.
For one of the new assessment activities, students created short patient-teaching videos, using Zoom or their phone camera, on topics of their choice related to post-surgical recovery. This activity proved to be a fun and creative way to meet the learning outcomes. It afforded students a simulated patient-teaching experience to demonstrate important concepts in health literacy and patient-centered care. (See this montage of all 43 student videos.)
The sheer volume of assignments to be reviewed when using alternative assessment modalities was challenging in a large class, but we managed it by doing a lot of collaborative work in pairs and groups. And although we still used proctored exams for assessment after the switch to remote teaching, the proportion of the grading scheme they made up dropped from 80 percent to 50 percent.
While there has been a push to use alternative assessment in higher education for years, the pandemic has accelerated its adoption in practice, at least in the elective courses I teach. The surprising side effect is: I am loving it. The students’ creativity and ingenuity in producing videos shows they’ll go the extra mile to achieve the course outcomes.
The seeds for brainstorming alternative assessments were planted through my participation in the Designing Online Courses (DOC) seminar presented by the Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) department here at NYU. TLT’s Virtual Learning Community continues to give us a platform to draw inspiration and learn from one another.
Fidelindo Lim, DNP, CCRN, is clinical associate professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.