Background: Experiential learning opportunities, such as work integrated learning placements, are often challenging for health professional students. It is therefore imperative that students are adequately prepared before engaging in placement learning. Operationalising ‘readiness for learning on placement’ as a construct, is necessary for providing quality student feedback and assessment.
Methods: An integrative mixed methods approach was adopted for this study, utilising a survey to canvass the perspectives of academics, students, and placement educators around the construct of readiness to inform potential assessment items. An assessment tool measuring student readiness for placement was then developed. Data from occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech pathology programs were evaluated using Rasch analysis to explore the unidimensionality of this construct.
Results: The online survey was completed by 64 participants, confirming the importance and measurability of foundational skills integral to readiness for placement learning. These foundational skills were then reflected in a pilot 20-item tool covering domains of professional and learner behaviour, communication, information gathering skills and reasoning. The Rasch analysis of 359 pre-registration student assessments confirmed unidimensionality, suggesting that the skills and attributes (operationalised as assessment items) that are considered part of ‘readiness for placement’ are components of this construct. Together, these findings provide support that the items on this tool are relevant and representative of the skills and behaviours that indicate readiness for placement learning. Two items regarding documentation and appropriate professional dress demonstrated some lower importance scores and interpretation variance warranting further investigation.
Conclusion: Through the exploration of the construct of readiness for placement learning, we have created and subsequently revised, an innovative assessment tool that measures novice students’ pre-placement capabilities. Further research is now needed to explore the psychometric properties of the tool.
- Allied health
- Health professional students
- Work integrated learning