Aim: The aim of this study was to examine senior year nursing students' ability to self-assess their performance when responding to simulated emergency situations.
Background: Self-assessment is viewed as a critical skill in nursing and other health professional programmes. However, while students may spend considerable time completing self-assessments, there is little evidence that they actually acquire the skills to do so effectively. By contrast, a number of studies in medicine and elsewhere have cast doubt on the validity of self-assessment.
Method: In 2007, a one-group pre-test, post-test design was used to answer the question, 'How accurate are senior year nursing students in assessing their ability to respond to emergency situations in a simulated medical/surgical environment compared to observer assessment of their performance?' A total of 27 fourth year nursing students from a university in Ontario were asked to complete a questionnaire before and after an objective structured clinical examination which assessed their ability to respond to emergency situations. Self-assessments were compared with observed performance.
Findings: The experience of dealing with the simulated crisis situations significantly increased perceived confidence and perceived competence in dealing with emergency situations, although it did not affect self-perceived ability to communicate or collaborate. All but 1 of the 16 correlations between self-assessment and the objective structured clinical examination total scores were negative. Their self-assessment was also unrelated to several indices of experience in critical care settings.
Conclusion: Self-assessment in nursing education to evaluate clinical competence and confidence requires serious reconsideration as our well-intentioned emphasis on this commonly used practice may be less than effective.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.