Publication Details

Palermo, C., Dart, J., Begley, A., Beck, E. J., Bacon, R., Tweedie, J., Mitchell, L., Maher, J., Gallegos, D., Kennedy, M., Kellett, J., Margerison, C., Crawford, R., Stuart-Smith, W. et al (2018). Dietetics students’ construction of competence through assessment and placement experiences. Nutrition and Dietetics, 75 (3), 307-315.


Aim: Competency standards are widely adopted as a framework to describe standards of performance required inthe workplace. Little is known, however, about how students construct competence. This qualitative study aimed toexplore how dietetics students ready to graduate construct the concept of competence and the role of assessment indeveloping professional competence.Methods: A qualitative description was used to gather data from a convenience sample of students ready to gradu-ate from universities with accredited dietetics programs across Australia (10 out of 15 at the time of the study).A total of 11 focus groups were conducted to explore perspectives of competence and experiences of 'competency-based' assessment. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed using a thematic analysis approach.Results: A total of 81 (n = 81) participants across 10 universities representing 22% of total students participated inthe focus groups. Themes revealed that: (i) there is no shared understanding of competence; (ii) current work place-ment experiences may not reflect current standards or workforce needs; (iii) assessment approaches may not fullysupport the development of competence; and (iv) the competent performance of supervising dietitians/clinical edu-cators in the workplace influences the construction of competence.Conclusions: There is a need to work towards a shared understanding of dietetic entry-level competence in the pro-fession. 'Work-based' learning experiences may need to be modified to ensure students meet current competencystandards. Practitioners involved in student supervisionneed to acknowledge the influential role they have inthe development of the future workforce



Link to publisher version (DOI)