oa African Journal of Health Professions Education - Student and staff perceptions and experiences of the introduction of Objective Structured Practical Examinations : a pilot study : research
Background. The Objective Structured Practical Examination (OSPE) is widely recognised as one of the more objective methods of assessing practical skills in healthcare programmes, including undergraduate physiotherapy curricula.
Objectives. To obtain feedback from both students and staff who were involved in the introduction of an OSPE in 2011, in order to refine and standardise the format throughout the curriculum.
Methods. A qualitative research design was used. Data were gathered through a questionnaire with semi-structured open-ended items and focus group discussion. Participants were all third-year undergraduate physiotherapy students (N=47) and all staff members (N=10) in the 2011 academic year who were exposed to the OSPE format or were involved in the first OSPE.
Results. The main concerns raised by both students and staff were: (i) pressure due to time constraints and how this might affect student performance; and (ii) the question of objectivity during the assessment. However, their initial concerns changed as they experienced the OSPE in a more positive manner owing to the structure and objectivity of the process of implementing the OSPE.
Conclusion. While both students and staff reported positive experiences, the challenges that emerged provided valuable insight in terms of refining the OSPE format in this undergraduate physiotherapy department.
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