Assessment has a number of roles in the clinical placement. The ultimate goal of the process is to ensure that students achieve certain standards of practice that enable them to become qualified clinicians. These standards of practice form the basis of assessment in the clinical setting.

Other reasons to assess during a clinical placement:

  • Guide and motivate the student to learn
  • Monitor and record the progression of the student’s clinical skills
  • Foster self assessment and reflective practice
  • Identify direction for the student to focus on in their next clinical placement


How does assessment differ in the clinical placement from a student perspective?

It is important that the student understands the purpose of assessment in the clinical placement. As part of the student’s preparation for clinical placement, the university will have explained the assessment process.  As a student supervisor, it is worth remembering how clinical assessment will be a different experience for students. Students may be used to exams and assignments. The strategies used in these one-off assignment pieces may not be so helpful in the clinical setting. The idea of ‘not doing things right’ and receiving feedback can be a daunting challenge for some students. 

Smith (2013) identified a number of ways that assessment during a practical placement is unique.

  • Continuous process: aspects of performance are repeatedly sampled and compared across time
  • Developmental process: feedback is used to change performance and the ability to integrate feedback is evaluated
  • Multiple inputs: assessment will be based on multiple examplars of performance and there may be multiple educators providing input to the evaluation
  • Assessment is contextual: performance will be influenced by the client and the environment
  • Assessment may be on the spot: there may be limited time to prepare for something that will be evaluated
  • Multiple criteria
  • Abstract concepts: abstract concepts and the ability to integrate theory into practice is evaluated

Teaching and assessing in the presence of patients

An integral part of supervision is facilitating learning directly during the patient/client interaction.  The following tips aim to ensure the rights of everyone are respected and all parties are comfortable in the interaction (Health Education & Training Institute, 2011, p 46).

  • If possible, provide advance notice to the patient and obtain consent in private.
  • Ensure introductions are made.
  • Explain all procedures, discussions and communications.
  • Thank the patient and invite questions.


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.

  • Griffith University Clinical Education Resource Manual, (2012). School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Griffith University.
  • 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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