Development and psychometric testing of the Ascent to Competence Scale

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Journal Article
Nurse Education Today, 2013, 33 (1), pp. 15 - 23
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Aim: This paper reports the development and psychometric testing of the Ascent to Competence Scale, an instrument designed to measure nursing students' perceptions of the quality of their clinical placement experience. Background: The key purpose of clinical placements is to facilitate students' learning and progress toward the attainment of competence. The attainment of competence requires personal commitment and active involvement of students; support and guidance of clinical and academic staff; and clinical environments that are welcoming and inclusive of students. Method: The items for the Ascent to Competence Scale were identified following a critical review of the literature. Content and face validity were established by an expert panel. During 2010 the instrument was tested with third year nursing students (n= 88) from one Australian university. Exploratory factor analysis with promax oblique rotation was used to determine construct validity and Cronbach's coefficient alpha determined the scale's internal consistency reliability. Results: The final scale demonstrated satisfactory internal consistency (alpha 0.98). Exploratory factor analysis yielded a three-component structure termed "Being welcomed"; "Belongingness" and "Learning and competence". Each subscale demonstrated high internal consistency: 0.89; 0.96; and 0.95 respectively. Conclusion: The Ascent to Competence Scale provides a fresh perspective on clinical placements as it allows for the relationship between belongingness, learning and competence to be explored. The scale was reliable and valid for this cohort. Further research in different contexts would be valuable in extending upon this work. Relevance to clinical practice: The Ascent to Competence Scale profiled in this paper will be of benefit to both educational and healthcare institutions. The use of a quantified yardstick, such as the Ascent to Competence Scale, is important in evaluating the efficacy of programs, placements and partnerships between higher education and health services. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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