Degree Name

Master of Philosophy


School of Nursing


Background Assessment is an integral aspect of student learning. There has been a significant shift in focus from assessment of learning to assessment for learning. Although timely and meaningful feedback is essential to promote student learning the delivery of this remains problematic in higher education.

Aim The study aimed to explore the utility and effectiveness of annotated exemplars as an academic support strategy in undergraduate nursing students.

Methods This study used an explanatory, sequential mixed-methods design to collect quantitative and qualitative data about the experiences of second-year nursing students in their use of an annotated exemplar within a single unit of study. Quantitative administrative data, grade information and usage of the annotated exemplar were collected as part of the first phase of this study. Qualitative data were subsequently collected through interviews. Numerical data were analysed using descriptive, bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses. Interview data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results Of the 1120 students enrolled in the unit, approximately half used the annotated exemplar when writing their essay. Those who engaged with the tool were more likely to be female, older, born outside of Australia and had higher hit rates on the online learning management system. Whilst there was no demonstrated improvement in essay marks, two-thirds of students interviewed used the annotated exemplar as a blueprint to structure and/or guide them as they wrote their essay and to check that they were on the right track.

Conclusion Whilst this study found no improvement in student marks through the use of the annotated exemplar, there was substantial qualitative evidence of student engagement and satisfaction with the learning support strategy. Further research needs to focus on building uptake of the tool and engaging both staff and students in implementation.

FoR codes (2020)

390303 Higher education, 390402 Education assessment and evaluation, 390110 Medicine, nursing and health curriculum and pedagogy



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.