Most clinical placements require some assessment of the student. This may be on their overall conduct during the placement or may include the assessment of specific competencies. The purposes of student assessment can be considered to be for one or more of the following reasons15:

  • Formative: to guide the student’s professional development
  • Summative: to document satisfactory performance (certification/registration/progression)
  • Systemic: to identify strengths and weaknesses of the education and training process.

Remember when assessing students you should assess them based on the level of expected performance for someone at their level (see individual curriculum and placement details for levels of expected performance). Naturally those nearing the completion of their training are expected to display a higher level of competence than those in their beginning years.

If you are required to assess a student the education provider will provide guidance on how to assess a student for their particular placement but in general consider the following approaches as a guide13. The more objective and specific feedback you can provide to support your assessment the more useful the student will find your feedback. It will also help them to identify how best to rectify any deficits and just as importantly what strengths they should capitalise on. Where possible provide feedback in a timely manner – it can be difficult for a student to remember the specific details of a patient / client encounter that happened a week ago.

Assessment Levels

  • Clearly below expected level: The student is substantially below the standard expected for someone at this stage of training and needs planned assistance to meet the standard. If any rating is “Clearly below expected level”, the Supervisor should consult the education provider contact.
  • Borderline/requires assistance: The student requires further development relative to the average student performing this term at this stage of training and needs planned assistance to meet the standard. If any ratings are “Borderline/requires assistance” the Supervisor should consider consulting the education provider contact.
  • At expected level: The student is performing at the level expected of someone at this stage of training.
  • Clearly above expected level: The student is performing at a level that should be recognised and highly commended.

The following table provides another approach to assessment based on how safe, accurate, and efficient the student is and how much assistance they require. [1]

Competency Rating
Quality of performance
Assistance required
ProficientSafe, accurate each timeEfficient
Occasional expenditure of excess energy within an expedient time frame
Minimal supportive cues
Advanced beginnerSafe/accurate each timeCapable
Some expenditure of excess energy within a reasonable time frame
Infrequent supportive cues
BeginnerSafe/accurate with supervisionSkilful in parts of behaviour
Occasionally inefficient and uncoordinated
Expends excess energy within a delayed period of time
Frequent verbal and occasional physical directive cues in addition to supportive cues
NoviceSafe but not alone
Requires supervision
Accurate - not always
Unskilled, inefficient
Considerable expenditure of energy
Prolonged period of time
Unable to demonstrate specific behaviour
Lacks confidence, coordination, efficiency
Continuous verbal and frequent physical cues
UnsatisfactoryNot observed, not applicable or unable to assess

[1] Australian Catholic University. 2012. School of Nursing and Midwifery Clinical Placement Handbook v1.1