Formal assessment typically occurs at the midway point of the placement and at the end of the placement. The midway assessment is formative and is designed to monitor the student's learning. The purpose of the midway assessment is to help the student understand how they are progressing and identify areas that they can target. The assessment at the end of the placement is summative and indicates the student’s competence at the end of the placement.

However, assessment occurs throughout the placement. Smith (2013) identifies typical assessment criteria and clinical activities that can be used to assess how the student is meeting these competencies.

Assessment criteria or competency


Profession specific skills and tasks

  • Observation of session with clients
  • Exams and tests with and without clients
  • Practical sessions with other students

Clinical reasoning: Combining and integrating knowledge, skills and attitudes

  • Asking the student to manage a case
  • Observe the planning, sequence and care of the case
  • Review client goals and the rationale for treatment


  • Direct questioning
  • Exams
  • Observe the way the student explains knowledge to the client
  • Ask the student to present a case to you – does the student refer to a knowledge base when diagnosing and suggesting treatment options

Professional behaviour, communication and teamwork

  • Observe student’s interaction with you, other health professionals and support staff
  • Ask the student to complete reflections or self-assessments
  • Observe behaviour in the group (easier if you have multiple students on placement)
  • Observe dress
  • Take note of if the student arrives on time, takes appropriate breaks and advises you if they are going to be late

Achieving positive outcomes for clients: safe and effective practice




  • Observation of clinical performance
  • Comments by the client or other health professionals
  • Examine how much supervision is required – compare the amount of supervision at the beginning, middle and at the end of placement

Reasoning and thinking processes

  • Direct questioning: Ask the student to talk about and explain the reasoning process behind a decision
  • Written reports
  • Written intervention plans
  • Case notes
  • Case presentations
  • Case conferences
  • Letters to other health professionals


  • Increase student independence
  • Increase time pressures
  • Increase number of clients or number of complex clients



Please Note: References remain valid until superseded by later research. The resources referenced here are regularly reviewed and are considered current and relevant to the topics presented.

  • Smith, M (2013). Assessment of Clinical Learning. In Clinical and Fieldwork Placement in the Health Professions. 2nd Ed. Stagnitti, Schoo & Welch (Eds). Oxford University Press: Melbourne.


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