Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nursing and Allied Health Professions

First Advisor

Michele A. Gerwick

Second Advisor

Joyce A. Shanty

Third Advisor

Julia A. Greenawalt

Fourth Advisor

Susan G. Poorman

Fifth Advisor

Melissa L. Mastorovich


Nursing is a practice discipline where nurse educators serve as gatekeepers to the profession. Clinical evaluation is used by nurse educators to make a judgment regarding the competency of nursing students’ ability to think, reason, and provide safe, competent care to patients. Clinical evaluation is touted as the most challenging responsibility for a nurse educator. However, is clinical evaluation also difficult for nursing students?

There is a dearth of research about the meaning of the clinical evaluation experience to nursing students. This study sought to explore and understand the meaning of the clinical evaluation experience of nursing students. Using Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenology, 16 prelicensure nursing students were asked to share a time about a clinical evaluation experience that stood out to them. Additionally, they were asked to describe what the experience meant to them. Data analysis unveiled the following three themes from the nursing students’ stories: Fearing the Judgment, Presencing, and Wanting More.

The results from the study suggested that development of positive student-instructor relationships may alleviate some of the fear that students experienced. Furthermore, students believed the presence of the instructor during the clinical experience and the evaluation process was valuable to their learning. Also, students in the study expressed wanting more individualized feedback in order to develop their thinking, reasoning, and judgment ability.

The findings from this study provide insight on the relationship of fear, instructors’ “being with” students, and formative constructive feedback on student learning and success across nursing program types. Implications from the findings of this study may be used to guide nurse educators in mentoring of instructors and faculty development strategies with respect to clinical evaluation of nursing students.