A University of Newcastle joint research project could transform the way health students are assessed in the future.
The Australian Learning and Teaching Council has granted $220,000 to The eOSCE: Advancing technology to improve students’ learning and reliability, which will be led by Newcastle’s Dr Suzanne Snodgrass.
The collaborative project with the University of Queensland will explore a new mechanism for assessing students’ practical skills in the health professions.
The Electronic Objective Structured Clinical Examination (eOSCE) aims to provide an alternative to paper-based assessment using an iPad. It works by using an electronic marking and feedback system, with specialised software for recording performance and providing student feedback.
Dr Snodgrass said current evaluation methods for practical skills were sometimes slow in providing feedback to students, especially when a number of assessors were needed to report on a student’s performance.
“The attractiveness of this system is the immediacy of feedback to students. When health students take a practical exam they usually demonstrate their skills at multiple stations with mock patients, and are marked on their performance by a number of assessors using paper forms,” Dr Snodgrass said.
“The electronic marking system will allow assessors’ comments to be collated electronically and sent directly to the student. This research project will evaluate student satisfaction with learning, reliability and the implications of this new assessment method.”
The eOSCE will be piloted in the rehabilitative professions of physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the University of Newcastle and University of Queensland.
The two year project will start early 2011, with some data and feedback expected by the end of semester one. The findings will be shared with other educational institutions.