Nursing Program Assessment and Evaluation: Evidence-Based Decision-Making Improves Outcomes

Wednesday, 15 July 2009: 3:45 PM

Jeanne Sewell, MSN, RN
Graduate Nursing, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, GA
Flor A. Culpa-Bondal, PhD, RN
Undergraduate Nursing Department, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, GA
Martha Colvin, PhD, RN
Undergraduate Nursing, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, GA

Purpose: The aim of this presentation is to describe how the process of systematic assessment of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program triggered curriculum and policy changes. Lessons learned and opportunities for more comprehensive pertinent assessment methods are discussed. An instance of unexpected increase in the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX®) failure rate in 2002 prompted faculty members to implement a number of changes. Prominent changes included the introduction of an NCLEX® preparation course that incorporated a remediation plan and an NCLEX® simulation exam.  After much consideration, the faculty voted to adopt a progression policy that required students to pass the simulation exam prior to graduation from the university.
Methods: Systematic program evaluation allowed faculty to reflect on best practices for teaching and learning in order to positively affect student outcomes on the NCLEX®.  Methods used to improve student outcomes included development of a remediation course, faculty-student mentoring at 1:8 ratios, and the addition of a NCLEX® simulation examination.  Analysis of student performance was conducted each time the remediation course was taught. Data were also aggregated and analyzed for all courses taught using correlation and descriptive statistics.
Results: The required passing score of 85 (now equivalent to 850) for the examination was the initial benchmark set in 2003. Using aggregated data for continuous program evaluation, the passing score was raised to 900 in 2008. The progression policy has had a positive impact on improving student performance.
Conclusion: Evidence-based decision-making has dramatically improved NCLEX® pass rates in this program, although it required faculty to make tough choices when making school policies.  Continued success will be dependent on support of progression policies at the administrative level.