The purpose of the evaluation is to identify strengths and suggest areas for improvement in order to ensure the student is qualified to enter professional practice. It also allows for the opportunity to review the student’s competency, developing skills, knowledge, and abilities.

Evaluations are different than feedback. They can be given around the middle of the placement and at the conclusion, or only at the conclusion of the rotation. Evaluations should provide information regarding continuation of the placement, or how the placement went overall. The final evaluation should elaborate on areas for future learning.

Prior to the evaluation, it is important to review the academic program’s evaluation tool and the list of goals and expectations that were developed at the beginning of the clinical placement.

Write down statements that relate to the student’s progress in their learning objectives. If possible, it is helpful to provide clear examples.

Mark students according to their performance over the entire clinical placement, rather than a single event.  Single events can be used as examples of total growth, but should not be used as the entire evaluation.

It is important that the preceptor and student share the same understanding with respect to the evaluation form. Is the preceptor rating the student’s performance against his/her own objectives and experiences, or against what one would expect of a new graduate?

If possible, it is beneficial to schedule the evaluation during the day and to work with your student to place the evaluation on your calendars as far in advance as is feasible. This way it can be given thoughtful consideration, rather than trying to complete it the night before it is due. It is also helpful to obtain feedback from other staff members who may have observed the student.

We use the term “Evaluation” in this module.  In some programs the preceptor can not evaluate the student but can provide feedback to the instructor.  Please substitute feedback for evaluation as necessary in your program.

Click here to view Evaluation Checklist (PDF)


  • Include specific areas for improvement and expectations for accomplishment.
  • When meeting to discuss the evaluation, explain the rationale behind the comments; clarify by providing examples.
  • Maintain a positive approach to evaluation, and provide areas of improvement balanced with areas of strength.
  • Keep improvements realistic so the student can focus on these areas.
  • Recognize that each placement is unique and so is each student. Try not to compare the current student to past students.


  • Were their expectations met?
  • Did they receive feedback often enough?
  • Did the feedback provide them with the information they needed to improve?
  • Did they feel comfortable during the clinical rotation?
  • Are there areas where the clinical site might improve to make the experience more conducive to learning for the student?

The formal evaluation can be an intimidating event for both student and preceptor. Yet, it is extremely important as this process can have a lasting impact on the student’s professional and clinical development. It is also a defining moment that will remain with the student when they reflect on their placement experience. Preparing for the evaluation allows the preceptor to transform this closing task of the placement into a positive and rewarding experience for themselves and the student.