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The State of the Science on Clinical Evaluation in Nursing Education

Lewallen, Lynne P.; Van Horn, Elizabeth R.

doi: 10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000376

AIM The purpose was to synthesize the published evidence to present the state of the science in clinical evaluation research in nursing education.

BACKGROUND Clinical evaluation is key to ensuring nursing students’ clinical competence, application of knowledge, and critical thinking, all of which are important to patient safety and quality nursing care.

METHOD Cooper’s research synthesis method was used.

RESULTS A comprehensive literature search resulted in 250 documents, of which 88 met study criteria. Topics were exhaustive but not mutually exclusive and included competence, instrumentation, congruence, teaching methods, objective structured clinical evaluation, faculty/preceptor issues with clinical evaluation, essential clinical behaviors, topic-based evaluation, decision-making about clinical grade, and clinical reasoning.

CONCLUSION Nursing education science is in its infancy in many areas. Two areas most in need of future research are the need to accurately define and efficiently measure competence in the clinical area and the need for reliable and valid instrumentation.

About the Authors Lynne P. Lewallen, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, is professor and associate dean for academic affairs, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Elizabeth R. Van Horn, PhD, RN, CNE, is associate professor, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This Research was funded by a 2014 NLN Research in Nursing Education Grant, Ruth Donnelly Corcoran Research Award. The authors acknowledge the work of their research assistants, Dr. Catherine Moore, Dr. Wendasha Jenkins, and Dr. Sarah Abrams. For more information, contact Dr. Lewallen at

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.

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© 2019 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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