An objective structured practical examination for laboratory skills in a pharmacy technician programme
Keywords:Assessment, Borderline regression model, Laboratory skill, Observation
Background: Pharmacy technician education is typically at the pre-degree level and comprises instruction in scientific and clinical disciplines. The assessment of practical laboratory skills often utilises attainment-referenced methods, which are not always appropriate for vocationally-focused programmes.
Methods: An objective structured practical examination (OSPE) was introduced to assess student competency in three key areas (accurate weighing, calibrating a pH meter and performing a dilution). Students were assessed using weighted criterion-based assessment criteria and an overall global performance rating, which allowed cut scores to be determined using a borderline regression method. Student opinions were collected using online questionnaires on a five-point Likert scale.
Results: The move to OSPEs did not significantly alter the distribution of student results from previous years (mean ± SD, OSPE vs legacy: 77 ± 19% vs 73 ± 21%), suggesting that academic integrity was maintained. There was a high level of consistency in Likert score responses (Cronbach’s α = 0.823), with students clearly favouring the OSPE approach.
Conclusion: The move to an OSPE-based assessment was successful and provided a basis for the development of similar assessment strategies in the pharmacy technician programme.
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