Radiography assessment for practice: A critical practice enquiry

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Workplace learning (WPL) is integral to most professional entry degrees in healthcare. To be registered as healthcare professionals, graduates need to have proved their capability during WPL to achieve registration. Proving capability requires an assessment approach which considers the contextual variability of professional practice. The aim of this research was to develop an approach to assess undergraduate radiography students’ WPL capability. I chose radiography as this is the profession in which I am qualified and experienced, and in which I teach undergraduate students the skills and capabilities they practise during WPL.
As an assessor of radiography students’ WPL capability for over 20 years, and a radiography academic for over 10 years, I have first-hand experience of WPL assessment practices from workplace and university perspectives. This led to several observations. Firstly, unlike many other healthcare professions, undergraduate radiography degrees in Australia do not have uniform practices for assessing WPL capability. Secondly, current radiography WPL assessment practices assess competency, but largely neglect capability. Thirdly, current practices highlight that the radiography profession is having some difficulty breaking away from focusing purely on technical skills, and acknowledging that radiography professional practice shares commonalities with other healthcare professions.
This study is located in the interpretive paradigm, within which a deconstruction-reconstruction method was employed. The overarching research question was: What is an optimal method for assessing the clinical capability of radiography students? To answer this question three research sub-questions were posed:
A. What are the perceived challenges and issues in contemporary radiography WPL assessment?
B. What are the key student capabilities that should be assessed in radiography WPL to give a credible, dependable, confirmable and transferable overview of preparedness to practise?
C. What assessment approaches lend themselves for assessing the key capabilities in a meaningful way in the context of A and B?
Current radiography WPL capability assessment practices were deconstructed in the light of contemporary literature regarding assessment in higher education. Surveys, interviews and focus groups with stakeholders were undertaken. This empirical data was used to reconstruct a radiography WPL capability assessment approach, piloted with radiography clinical assessors working with students from two Australian universities. Their opinions were sought via survey.

The deconstruction process examined the nature of professional practice in the literature; it was deemed to be interactional, dynamic and contextual in nature. These aspects of professional practice were found to be integral to assessment of radiography WPL capability, but not to the neglect of the technical aspects of radiography practice currently assessed. Therefore, the assessment approach developed needed to adequately assess all these aspects of practice.
This study clearly pointed to different assessment strategies being necessary for assessing professional practice. Because professional practice does not occur in isolation, but rather forms part of a complex whole, it was determined that the different assessment strategies should occur in parallel, producing a multidimensional assessment approach. This approach assesses student capability in professional practice utilising professional judgement of workplace assessors, structured reflective journals assessed by university academics, and assessment of technical competence by workplace assessors.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Trede, Franziska, Principal Supervisor
  • Higgs, Joy, Co-Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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