Welcome to the world of learning disability nurse education

Welcome to my first post about the innovation project I am undertaking at the University of Northampton. The University has funded me from its innovation fund to develop a peer assessment for student learning disability nurses who are on practice placement. This combines two of my interests. Firstly, I am passionate about improving the lives of people with learning disabilities and I am still enjoying my career in this field which is well into its fourth decade! Secondly, after having spent most of my career encouraging people with learning disabilities to become partners in their own care and support, I am keen to encourage students to play a greater role in their own learning. Peer assessment is one of the way in which students can achieve this.

Although I have discovered that peer assessment has been used many times in higher education, nurse education has been a little slower at adopting it. Where it has been tried, it has been confined to relatively small scale academic activities or in teaching student nurses a practical skills such as hand-washing. I want to build upon this by developing an assessment format that students could use when on placement that would require them to deploy a greater range of observation and reasoning skills in making judgements about each other’s practice.

I am at an early stage in the project: still trawling the literature, completing ethics application forms and testing out ideas with colleagues. My next step is to visit another university that uses a similar approach to see what can be learned from both staff and student nurses who use it.

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