1. Hill, Rebecca DNP, CNE
  2. Wong, John PhD
  3. Thal, Rebecca MSN, FNP

Article Content

A common challenge for first-semester nursing students revolves around their study and test-taking skills. Frequent testing in a low-stakes setting can assist students in adjusting their strategies to prepare for high-stakes nursing examinations. Continuous and frequent assessment provides an opportunity for students to identify their learning needs and develop strategies for improvement before higher-stakes testing. Frequent assessment also provides feedback to faculty about their teaching effectiveness. In a first-semester fundamentals nursing course, students were given National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-style questions, at the application level or higher, tailored to the topics being taught each week. Each day, one question was delivered electronically via the institution's learning platform. The results were immediately scored, and feedback, including a rationale for correct and incorrect item responses, was provided to the student.


This novel application of assessment in the course helped to provide early identification of students struggling to grasp concepts and at risk of failing this rigorous course, allowing the opportunity for early intervention. Students who voluntarily participated in the daily questions and answered questions correctly fared better overall in the course. Although there were no statistically significant findings between failure of the course and completion of the daily questions, faculty had a greater likelihood in earlier intervention for students performing poorly on the daily questions to improve student success in the course overall. Students responded positively to this assessment strategy. In an anonymous survey at the end of the course, students who used the daily questions felt more comfortable with the NCLEX format of test items and requested continued use of the strategy in future courses. Repeated low-stakes testing with immediate feedback may enhance performance in a first-semester nursing course and assist faculty in identifying students at risk of failure.