Perceptions, Practices, and Challenges of Formative Assessment in Initial Nursing Education

The Open Nursing Journal 14 Sept 2020 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874434602014010180



Formative assessment is a pedagogical practice that improves teaching, as well as students' learning. There is a multitude of research demonstrating interest in this practice in the field of education. However, this assessment practice is poorly integrated by teachers despite its great pedagogical potential, in addition to the tensions existing between formative and summative assessment that its implementation is more formal by the institutions.


The purpose of this research is to explore, as a first step, how nursing teachers conceptualize formative assessment and how they judge its usefulness in the teaching/learning process. Secondly, the study seeks to identify the main challenges that could influence the practice of formative assessment in the context of nursing education.


The study used a descriptive quantitative research design. The target population of the study was composed of nursing teachers (N = 50) from the Higher Institute of Nursing and Health Techniques of Casablanca (ISPITS).

This target population includes all permanent nursing teachers working at the ISPITS of Casablanca, divided into the various existing fields. They are responsible for the initial training and practical supervision of nursing students and health technicians enrolled in the cycles of the professional license.

To meet our research objective, we conducted a survey using a questionnaire with 37 items divided into five dimensions based on William and Thompson's (2007) model of formative assessment.


The results revealed that, in teachers’ practice, the informal approach to formative assessment takes precedence over formal approaches based on planned assessment tools. In addition, their perception of the usefulness of formative assessment is oriented towards a diagnostic function of students' learning difficulties rather than a function of teaching guidance.

Furthermore, the study showed that the time commitment of formative assessment and the diversity of activities required of teachers might be obstacles to a broader practice of formative assessment.


This study offers suggestions that may help teachers facilitate and innovate the implementation of formative assessment in the field of nursing. Our research perspective is to demonstrate the effect of formative assessment on student learning outcomes through the implementation of a field experiment in collaboration with nursing teachers.

Keywords: Formative assessment, Nursing, Teachers, Perception, Practice, Challenges.
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