International Journal of Basic and Applied Physiology

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Material and Method: Ethical committee approval: The study was conducted in the Department of Physiology at the K.J. Somaiya Medical College and Research Centre, Mumbai, India (MUHS University) after the approval from the Institutional Ethics Committee for Research on Human Subjects with 50 first year MBBS medical students. An orientation programme regarding newer assessment tools and techniques for faculty members was organised with practice sessions. The students participating in the study were introduced to the OSPE system by short lecture and a role play organised by the faculty members and a written informed consent was taken for the same.
In the traditional assessment method, each student performed a clinical skill which was followed by a bedside viva-voca on the same and the judgement of the students was done based on overall performance of the students. Each student received different clinical procedure to demonstrate and the questions asked were unique to each one with no standardisation or uniformity. While in the OPSE, blueprint of the structured checklist for observed and unobserved stations was prepared as per Bloom’s taxonomy12 along with examiners’ and students’ instruction manual. Each of these checklists for clinical procedures, manuals, standard answers were validated by senior faculty members and experienced medical educators.
The OSPE set up had 10 stations focusing on communication skills, psychomotor skills in the form of performing a clinical procedure, interpretation of data with difficulty levels ranging from ‘must know’ to ‘desirable to know’ to ‘nice to know’ sections. Each station was allotted 3-5 minutes to complete with rest stations in-between. A time of 2 minutes was given to each student to facilitate movement between stations and read the instructions.
A total of 6 faculty members from the department of Physiology took part in the set up. Three examiners from the department of Physiology with a teaching experience of 35, 6 and 1 years respectively conducted TCE followed by OSPE for same batch of the students while other three faculties were a part of the administration team which concentrated in the general conduction of the entire examination procedure. At the end of the 4 day TCE- OSPE session, the faculty members answered an open –ended questionnaire regarding their experience on conducting TCE and OSPE with respect to objectivity, reliability, validity and feasibility of both the assessment methods. Qualitative analysis was done by identifying themes in faculty responses and grouping responses according to thematic content. The author individually conducted this content analysis and identified themes and final grouping of responses were developed by consensus.
Results: All 6 faculty members responded to the survey. All the faculty members felt that the OSPE is a relevant, unbiased and a fair tool for the formative assessment in medical curriculum. Their general opinion was that OSPE particularly emphasised on the aspects of objectivity and structured checklist standardization. They also felt that OSPE actually helped students understand what they really need to do in the clinical skills performance testing and what skills are important. OSPE highlighted the areas of weaknesses and fallacies during the clinical skills setting. Overall the OSPE was perceived as a relevant tool in understanding students learning and teachers teaching. Participating faculty members also felt that the successful incorporation of a new assessment tool could positively motivate other faculty members towards innovations in the field of medical education.

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