Simulation of a Comprehensive Written Exit Examination Through Use of a Timed Live Essay Experience in a Graduate Role Development Course

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Mary Anne Schultz, PhD, MBA, MSN, RN
School of Nursing, CSULA, Los Angeles, CA

Learning Objective 1: Describe features of the simulated comprehensive exam project

Learning Objective 2: List two major findings of the project

Simulation in nursing education has become an accepted and expected form of pedagogy. In general terms, simulation is a technique or device that attempts to create characteristics of the real world. It allows the educator to control the learning environment through scheduling of tasks or practice, providing feedback and minimizing or introducing environmental distractions. In graduate nursing education, simulation, when it occurs, is often limited to teaching advanced practice skills such as sophisticated history and physical taking or promoting mastery of high-tech encounters such as intubation.

Less often seen, however, is simulation of a non-mannequin variety. This refers to activities that mimic a reality and are designed to promote decision making and critical thinking. The teaching innovation, discussed herein, involved the simulation of a Comprehensive Writing Exam for graduate students. The aim of the project was: to simulate a comprehensive written exit examination through use of a three-hour face-to-face essay experience. Designed to early-identify and remediate poor writing competencies and/or critical thinking skills, the experience was placed in a first-year Graduate course in Advanced Practice Nurse Role Development.

Results include a range of scores from 17.85-23.45 on a 25 point scale, a mean of 20.25, a median of 18 and a mode of 17.85 (N=51). Six (6) students failed the exam on the criterion of lack of mastery of content (a score less than 9.96 on a subscale for Mastery). Other results include: 39 referrals to the writing center including 18 double- referrals for use of the Writing Center and services of a tutor, including suggested use of an English-language tutor. Implications for evaluation of student performance in subsequent courses are outlined. Projections are made relevant to building a system of remediation into the graduate program.