Involvement, self-reported knowledge and ways in which clinicians learn about assessment in the clinical years of a medical curriculum

  • L Pienaar
  • L Wolvaardt
  • F Cilliers
  • V Burch


Background. Medical students in their clinical years are assessed by clinician educators (CEs) with different levels of involvement and responsibilities in the assessment process.

Objective. To obtain a better understanding from CEs of their involvement in assessment activities in the clinical years of a medical degree programme, their self-reported knowledge of assessment and methods of learning about assessment. This study also explored the potential association between involvement in assessment activities, self-reported knowledge of assessment and employment profile.

Methods. An online cross-sectional survey was conducted among CEs involved in assessment of an undergraduate medical programme (years 4 - 6) at a South African university.

Results. Fifty-four CEs were contacted and 30 responses (56%) were received. Assessment responsibilities included design of assessment instruments, participation in assessment activities and quality assurance of assessments. The top five assessment activities that CEs were involved in were conducting objective structured practical examinations (OSPEs)/objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), designing multiple-choice questions, being a clinical examiner, conducting portfolio-based oral examinations and marking written assessments. CEs (≥80%) reported having some knowledge of formative and summative assessment, and of validity and reliability. Fewer CEs reported knowledge of constructive alignment, standard setting, item analysis and blueprinting. CEs acquired knowledge of assessment predominantly through informal methods such as practical experience and informal discussion rather than through formal education processes such as attending courses.

Conclusions. CEs participated extensively in assessment, but their knowledge with regard to assessment concepts varied.


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