Designing a Rubric for Peer Review in a Hybrid Undergraduate Writing Course Using QSEN Competencies

Monday, 30 October 2017

Nancy W. Ebersole, PhD
Pamela Coombs Delis, PhD
Marion C. Frost, DNP
School of Nursing, Salem State University, Salem, MA, USA

Scope: This work applies to the specific needs of educators teaching in hybrid nursing research writing courses that includes methodology aimed at the incorporation of peer review and collaboration.

Significance: This quality improvement project aims to incorporate the QSEN (2014) competencies of Quality Improvement, and Teamwork and Collaboration into an undergraduate writing-intensive nursing research course through peer review of research critiques, and includes the development of a rubric for learners on the expectations of the peer review.

Seasoned nurses realize how critical evidence based practice is to the profession, but does the nursing student view this importance with the same lens? Nursing students register for their nursing research course but does it merit the same attention to detail as their clinical courses? The challenge lies with developing a curriculum that sparks an interest and desire in the student to find out more about what drives their practice. It was with this in mind that faculty collaborated to redesign the undergraduate nursing research course, which is also the University designated writing intensive course.

Effective communication is vital to the nursing profession. Strong writing skills provide a foundation for applying critical thinking, developing clarity of thought and to develop the skill of self-reflection as to how others respond to one’s words (Miller, Russell, Cheng, & Skarbek, 2015). To develop these skills, students need to be engaged in the writing process which was not embraced by students who preferred clinical courses. Creating a means for self-assessment in a hybrid course provided further challenges and a tool directing students to actively participate in writing was needed. Building on the findings that self-assessment raises outcome as students become more familiar and accustomed to using it (He & Canty, 2012), the need for a rubric that fostered students working together to improve their writing was identified. Identifying a means to measure a student’s reflection on another’s work creates further challenges (Moniz, Arntfield, Miller, Lingard, Watling & Regher, 2015), prompting a deeper look into rubric development.

To create direction and focus for this challenge, the QSEN (2014) competencies were used. Fostering activities through discussion in an online course (Wright & Scherb, 2011) aligns with teamwork and collaboration while actual rubric development to improve writing outcomes (Singleterry, Kalkman, Chrenka & Courtright-Nash, 2016) speaks to the competency of quality improvement.

A formative, analytic rubric was needed to aid students in understanding and completing the assignment. Donabedian’s framework (2003) for quality improvement provided the focus of structure in developing the rubric, the process in how students were to use it, the outcomes in determining the quality of the writing assignment, and the provision of feedback in this peer review process. Instruction to students to utilize the rubric as a consistent measure for all aids required careful consideration so all students felt they were graded fairly. Determining whether a paper was of the quality expected was daunting but became easier with time. The provision of feedback in a constructive and positive manner required faculty support as well.

Evaluation: The rubric developed will undergo reliability and validity testing and will inform further development. This quality improvement project will be evaluated through ongoing evaluations of student success, interest, and peer-review effectiveness to be completed at the end of subsequent writing intensive, undergraduate nursing research courses. Surveys will be completed by students and evaluation will be done by nurse educators teaching the course.