• assessment of practice;
  • degree level;
  • diploma level;
  • level descriptors;
  • nurse education

‘Levels’ of attainment in nursing practice: reality or illusion?

In earlier research based on an analysis of course documentation, it had been found that there was little consensus among nurse educators concerning the parameters which distinguish levels of practice skills, particularly those which differentiate diploma and degree qualifications in the United Kingdom. This result was confirmed and strengthened in the current study. Lecturers in nursing, when presented with a sorting task using 40 statements derived from course documentation selected from the earlier study, were unable to distinguish statements describing diploma level from those describing degree level practice. Possible reasons for the difficulty are discussed. It is concluded that the attempt to represent practice skill in a hierarchy of assessment for degree or diploma qualifications is premature since the parameters of practice remain unreliably specified.