A critique of the assessment of professional skills

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VCombining the Criteria

The five key criteria discussed above are often in conflict, if not mutually inconsistent. For example, assessment tasks aligned closely with course objectives and designed to test professional skills are much more likely to be open ended than right/wrong, and are correspondingly less reliable.26 To illustrate, a portfolio may be a valid method to assess professional skills such as reasoned analysis, critical thinking and decision-making. A portfolio may also be well integrated with a problem based learning environment. However, since the portfolio usually gives students the choice of which evidence to present in support of their claims, the final product becomes increasingly variable and claims of reliability harder to support. A portfolio assessment also has a tendency to become unwieldy and difficult to mark and therefore potentially impractical.27

The complete reconciliation of these and other important criteria in the context of formulation of assessment of professional skills taught in a problem-based format may be impossible. However, in order to ensure the best possible learning environment, teaching outcomes and quality control, it is an exercise which must, at least, be attempted. How can we undertake this task?

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