The State of the Science on Clinical Evaluation in Nursing Education

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The purpose was to synthesize the published evidence to present the state of the science in clinical evaluation research in nursing education.


Clinical evaluation is key to ensuring nursing students’ clinical competence, application of knowledge, and critical thinking, all of which are important to patient safety and quality nursing care.


Cooper’s research synthesis method was used.


A comprehensive literature search resulted in 250 documents, of which 88 met study criteria. Topics were exhaustive but not mutually exclusive and included competence, instrumentation, congruence, teaching methods, objective structured clinical evaluation, faculty/preceptor issues with clinical evaluation, essential clinical behaviors, topic-based evaluation, decision-making about clinical grade, and clinical reasoning.


Nursing education science is in its infancy in many areas. Two areas most in need of future research are the need to accurately define and efficiently measure competence in the clinical area and the need for reliable and valid instrumentation.

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