Can podcasts for assessment guidance and feedback promote self-efficacy among undergraduate nursing students? A qualitative study

Linda C McSwiggan, Maureen Campbell
Nurse Education Today 2017, 49: 115-121

BACKGROUND: Improving assessment guidance and feedback for students has become an international priority within higher education. Podcasts have been proposed as a tool for enhancing teaching, learning and assessment. However, a stronger theory-based rationale for using podcasts, particularly as a means of facilitating assessment guidance and feedback, is required.

OBJECTIVE: To explore students' experiences of using podcasts for assessment guidance and feedback. To consider how these podcasts shaped beliefs about their ability to successfully engage with, and act on, assessment guidance and feedback Design Exploratory qualitative study. Setting Higher education institution in North-East Scotland. Participants Eighteen third year undergraduate nursing students who had utilised podcasts for assessment guidance and feedback within their current programme of study.

METHODS: Participants took part in one of four focus groups, conducted between July and September 2013. Purposive sampling was utilised to recruit participants of different ages, gender, levels of self-assessed information technology skills and levels of academic achievement. Data analysis was guided by the framework approach.

FINDINGS: Thematic analysis highlighted similarities and differences in terms of students' experiences of using podcasts for assessment guidance and feedback. Further analysis revealed that Self-Efficacy Theory provided deeper theoretical insights into how the content, structure and delivery of podcasts can be shaped to promote more successful engagement with assessment guidance and feedback from students. The structured, logical approach of assessment guidance podcasts appeared to strengthen self-efficacy by providing readily accessible support and by helping students convert intentions into action. Students with high self-efficacy in relation to tasks associated with assessment were more likely to engage with feedback, whereas those with low self-efficacy tended to overlook opportunities to access feedback due to feelings of helplessness and futility.

CONCLUSIONS: Adopting well-structured podcasts as an educational tool, based around the four major sources of information (performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, social persuasion, and physiological and emotional states), has potential to promote self efficacy for individuals, as well as groups of students, in terms of assessment guidance and feedback.

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