Attitudes and philosophies of academics and work-based educators towards assessment of clinical competencies in dietetics

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: Making decisions regarding student competency assessment is challenging and involves the
input of multiple stakeholders in both the academic and
work-based settings. This study aimed to explore the attitudes and behaviours of academics and work-based
clinical educators and their impacts on assessment.
Summary of Work: Ten focus groups with experienced academics from ten Australian universities involved in
student dietitian training explored views on competency-based assessment (n=58). Surveys (66-item, open-ended
and Likert scale) then explored clinical educators’ attitudes to assessing competency across 17 acute and sub-acute hospitals (n=26). Views of the different groups
were analysed separately.
Summary of Results: Focus groups acknowledged: the
relationship between competency and future
employment; holistic assessment; professionalism and
challenges with a one
-size fits all approach. Contrastingly,
the majority of hospital
-based clinical educators reported:
preference for a single standardised tool; the importance
of quantifiable objective measurements; and separate
assessment for different domains of practice.
Discussion: Academics appreciated of the complexity of
competency assessment along with its potential for
subjectivity and its connection with the prospects for
graduate employment beyond hospital settings. Clinical
educators’ views were more focussed on the hospital
environment and they valued the concepts of objectivity
and validated, standardised tools.
Conclusion: Attitudes to assessing competency for work-based performance differed. Further training of clinical
educators may develop their understanding of thecomplexities involved in competency based assessment.
This includes extending their understanding of
competency assessment beyond the clinical domain and
the role of self and subjectivity.
Take-home Message: Competency -based assessment is
complex and related to future employment roles which
are rapidly evolving in health care and dietetics. Clinical
educators require further training in making assessment
decisions and be supported to acknowledge their intrinsic
and external drivers that influence these judgements.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
EventAn International Association for Medical Education 2017 - Messukeskus Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 26 Aug 201730 Aug 2017


ConferenceAn International Association for Medical Education 2017
Abbreviated titleAMEE 2017
Internet address

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