Amsterdam, 2005: ‘Competency at Graduation: Implications for the Curriculum and Assessment of Professional Skills and Attitudes’

Sponsored by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Subject Centre for Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV)

Workshop flyer (PDF) 

The second ‘ViEW’ (Veterinary Education Worldwide) workshop was held at Vrije University, in association with the AMEE 2005 conference in Amsterdam, on 30th August 2005.

After a brief introduction by Prof. Peter van Beukelen (Utrecht) and Dr. Susan Rhind (Edinburgh), the event got underway with Prof. Albert Scherpbier of the Institute for Medical Education in Maastricht, giving a historical account on medical experiences on translating outcomes into the curriculum. In this talk Prof. Scherpbier differentiated between the “curriculum on paper”, the “curriculum in action” as experienced by students, and the “outcome” represented by graduates’ views and experiences. Prof. Scherpbier emphasised the importance of a national veterinary education “blueprint” in mapping outcomes, developed in a collaborative manner, which is sufficiently detailed, but still flexible enough to allow some freedom between individual schools.

Prof. Peter van Beukelen then gave an account of educational development at Utrecht, in particular the veterinary Bachelor-Master curriculum (to be introduced in 2007), based on a new curriculum implemented in 2001 that encompasses a period of research experience for students, more small group teaching and group tasks, interdisciplinary integration and a significant reduction in contact hours to promote increased self-study. General competencies, in the 2001 Utrecht curriculum, were broken down into veterinary technical, scientific, personal and social aspects, all of which were ‘brainstormed’ by the delegates in a subsequent small group exercise. The exercise was coordinated by Prof. Peter van Beukelen, Dr. Brigitte Grether (Zurich), Dr. Debbie Jaarsma (Utrecht) and Dr. Hellen van der Maazen, also of Utrecht.

Both Prof. van Beukelen and Prof. Scherpbier warned against the danger of listing skills and diseases in defining the competencies required of a new veterinary graduate, as this has been shown to create some tensions between staff when implementing a new curriculum and to potentially lead to imbalances in the curriculum.

Dr. Grether described her work in using databases to administer competencies, with each competency comprising a database entity with its own attributes, such as relevance, associated teaching resources, the level of competence required, and standards to characterise good performance. Like Prof. van Beukelen, she expressed interest in seeing how an international framework of veterinary competencies could be established.

After lunch, Prof. Donal Walsh gave an account of the Veterinary Medicine Online Evaluation System (VOLES) in place at University of California Davis – a computerised system for criterion-referencing of students’ skills and attitudes by staff, using a Likert scale rating for each skill or attitude. The system enables individual student evaluation, and also works as a collective teaching programme assessment, incorporating up to 40,000 evaluations of competency.

Ms. Carol Gray presented work recently begun at Liverpool on the development of reflective-self assessment via portfolios, for communication skills assessment. The portfolios allow students to reflect on two professional consultations seen in practice during extra-mural studies, and to self-reflect on their own performance as illustrated by videos of role-play with actors (experiential learning).
Download presentation (PDF, 2.5MB) 

Dr. Stan Head presented the results of some innovative work at the Royal Veterinary College, London, on the use of OSPVEs (Objective Structured Practical Veterinary Examinations), based on OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations). Dr. Head stressed the importance of this assessment format for practical skills, implemented in 1st, 3rd and final year at London. Dr. Head also compared the linear regression method with the constant group size method in setting the passmark for OSPVE stations, concluding that the methods generated very similar pass marks.
Download presentation (PPS, 6MB) 

A final workshop activity coordinated by Susan Rhind and Catriona Bell considered some statements about assessment and encouraged delegates to design their ‘ideal final year clinical assessment’, given unlimited resources. The fact that subjectivity was not necessarily synonymous with unreliability was emphasised and all four breakout groups agreed that their ideal assessment package would involve multiple assessment methods, multiple examiners (both faculty staff and extra-mural study providers such as practitioners) and would be undertaken as often as possible throughout the final year. In addition, one group stated that assessment methods should be tailored to assess at the top level of Millers Pyramid for assessing clinical competence (‘know, knows how, shows how, does’).

The meeting was followed by a visit to the veterinary clinical facilities at Utrecht University on the Wednesday, led by Peter van Beukelen, Debbie Jaarsma and Hellen van der Maazen. An informal meeting in the evening over dinner enabled delegates and organisers to discuss future strategies for developing the work of ViEW and encouraging a larger membership. One positive outcome of the workshop was the realisation that ViEW is a forum not only for discussion of ideas in veterinary education, but also a platform for turning ideas into reality on a practical level, and as a means of fostering international collaboration.

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