Conference Publication Details
Mandatory Fields
John Sweeney, Josephine Hegarty, Carol Condon, Maria O'Shea, Angela Flynn, Lynne Marsh, Agnes Phelan, Ann Cummins, Sile Creedon, Kay O'Mahony, University College Cork
6th Annual Conference of the National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and learning and the 4th Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference
Assessment of Learning in the Clinical practice Environment: Using an On-Line tool to Help Students Understand the Abstract Nature of Steinaker and Bell's (1979) Experiential Taxonomy
Optional Fields
Threshold concepts clinical assessment nursing students
NAIRTL & Threshold Concepts Conference Steering Committee
Trinity College Dublin


Assessment of clinical competence is an essential component of any health related professional program. Clinical assessment in our school currently comprises of: 1) Each student being assigned a registered nurse/midwife clinical preceptor 2) Preceptor and student working together in clinical practice 3) Student and preceptor agreeing the number of competencies and level of attainment for each placement and 4) Steinaker and Bell's (1979) experiential taxonomy (exposure, participation, identification and internalization) being used to assist in identifying the level of competency and skill attainment appropriate for each year of their program. However, students and preceptors have articulated difficulty in comprehending the abstract nature of such threshold concepts.


To create a profile of clinically pertinent cases which could be used to explain what is required of students at the various levels of the taxonomy. Translate this information into an easily accessible online intervention.


A series of qualitative, descriptive semi-structured interviews (created around the framework of Steinaker and Bells (1979) Taxonomy) were conducted with students (n=10) and preceptors (n=10). Data was analysed using qualitative thematic content analysis. Key themes/exemplars, which best explain the clinical assessment process were identified. An online package using a mixture of text, video, audio, providing clinically relevant, rich and interesting explanations of abstract terminology was created.


The complex nature of each of the concepts within the taxonomy were unravelled using the exemplars provided by students and their preceptors, each participant bringing a unique and discipline specific perspective. This paper provides an overview of the process used to develop and validate the online learning resource.


The interviews provided an insight into the clinical assessment process and brought clarity to abstract terms used in the taxonomy. The online intervention provides an easily accessible tool which can be used as a learning resource.

NAIRTL grant funding
Grant Details
5000 Small Projects grant