In the autumn 2012, a local General Hospital approached its local Higher Education Institution (HEI), the University of Northampton (UoN), to propose that pre-registration nursing students become involved in working with its Audit Department. Following extensive discussions and negotiations, it was jointly agreed to ‘pilot’ an opportunity for two third year adult student nurses to work on a pressure ulcer care audit as part of their third year dissertation. Supported by members of the Audit Department at the local hospital, and supervised by academic tutors with experience in primary research data collection techniques, the specially selected students embarked on a journey which was to revolutionise their own views of audit, as well as demonstrate to both the audit team and academic team the need to develop their own experiences of supporting student nurses who elect to undertake audit work.

Throughout the duration of the ‘pilot’ project, all parties involved in the process received extensive support from within both organisations. The students were supported in the ‘hub’ placement learning opportunity by their practice assessor, who had been extensively briefed by the Module Leader (ML) prior to the students’ arrival in their designated clinical area. The practice assessors were also in frequent communication with their University Clinical link person throughout the duration of the project. These Academic Links worked with the Practice Assessors to facilitate changes to the students’ working shift patterns as required to support the audit process. In addition, regular local meetings were undertaken between the ML and members of the audit department, clinical supervisors, to address concerns and queries as they arose and clarify both the communication mechanisms for the pilot and the academic requirements of the dissertation.

On completion of the project, the students were formerly invited to evaluate their unique experience via standard academic reporting mechanisms; and informally invited to meet with the Head of Nursing Developments (HoND) and ML to provide more detailed verbal feedback on the strengths and challenges of the pilot. Having completed the first phase of the audit pilot, the ML and HoND reviewed the project with the aim of identifying both the positive aspects and potential areas for improvement should the project be extended into a second phase with multiple-sites. After successfully completing their undergraduate dissertation and achieving their award, the student participants who participated in the pilot expressed both their satisfaction and enjoyment in being given the opportunity.

For more information about this assessment, please contact Dr Jacqueline Parkes, Associate Professor/Head of Nursing Developments ( or Cindy O’Dell, Senior Lecturer Adult Nursing (

This case study is taken from the Institute of Learning and Teaching’s 2015 publication ‘Outside the Box Assessment and Feedback Practices’, available from the University’s Assessment and Feedback portal.

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