Implementation of an electronic Objective Structured Clinical Exam for assessing practical skills in pre-professional physiotherapy and occupational therapy programs: Examiner and course coordinator perspectives

Suzanne J Snodgrass, Samantha E Ashby, Darren A Rivett, Trevor Russell


Assessment of practical clinical skills is essential in the health fields. Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs), where examiners assess students performing clinical procedures on simulated patients (actors), are central to the evaluation of practical skills. However, traditional OSCEs require considerable time-investment to administer, and providing timely, individualised student feedback is difficult. To address these issues, an electronic OSCE (eOSCE) was developed utilising the iPad and specialised software. The eOSCE was trialled in four courses within two entry-level rehabilitative pre-professional programs at two universities, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Evaluation consisted of student surveys (n = 206), eight student focus groups (n = 25), examiner surveys (n = 25) and interviews with course coordinators (n = 3). This paper describes the administration of the eOSCE and reports on its evaluation from the academic’s perspective. A majority of examiners (68%) preferred the eOSCE over traditional paper-based OSCEs, primarily because of the consistency and promptness of student feedback. The advantages academics cited were equitable student feedback and post-examination administrative time-savings. Disadvantages of the eOSCE were the pre-examination preparation required and challenges for examiners not comfortable using technology. Overall, the key benefits of the eOSCE were the automated, immediate individualised student feedback and a time saving in OSCE administration.


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