Involving service users in the assessment of the performance of pre registration student midwives : an interpretive study of the perceptions of key stakeholders
This study investigates the perceptions of key stakeholders in midwifery education concerning the involvement of service users in student assessment. It identifies the key stakeholders in specific interest groups, as expert professional and expert lay people, parents, student midwives, qualified midwives who mentor students in clinical practice and the heads of midwifery education in University Departments. The work starts from the premise that assessment is an underestimated means of enhancing students' learning and the development of competence to practise as a registered midwife. The inquiry opens by examining the professional context in which maternity services are provided. It identifies the relationships that midwives form with the women and their families for whom they care. These considerations are followed by an interrogation of the literature that reveals a rich variety of interlocking concepts that are apposite considerations in terms of the assessment of student midwives and the involvement of women in it. This finely links the problem to previous research and provides a sound rationale for the conduct of the study. Interpretivism is advanced as a suitable philosophical framework for the prosecution of the study that offers a methodological rationale for a pragmatic, mixed methods investigation. The study design presents a raison d'dtre for a phased approach to the work and data are accrued variously from qualitative and quantitative sources. Although the focus of the work concerned the role of users of maternity services in student assessment and found considerable support for their involvement, what emerged has wider consequences for teaching and learning, the overall student experience and also for women as health service consumers. Having examined the principle dynamics that influence student learning in clinical placements, the study concludes that there is a superficial disharmony between learning and assessment yet it claims the two are mutually complimentary. The inclusion of women in teaching and learning is seen as a potent means to add an extra element to the definition of competence and to add to the authenticity of its assessment.