The perception of online work-based assessments

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Work-based assessments (WBAs) and the associated online feedback are fundamental parts of clinical training. Despite years of clinical use there is little evidence suggesting that they have a positive impact on learning or performance.


This observational pilot study investigates the perceptions of online WBAs (OnWBAs) across specialties in an attempt to establish why these tools are not meeting their full academic potential.


Structured questionnaires were given to 90 clinicians. Responses were analysed in excel, and spss 17 was used to test for statistical significance.


All responders felt that OnWBAs were a poor reflection of clinical competency, and did not enhance learning significantly. Consultant OnWBAs rated poorly against those performed by other grades. Consultant OnWBAs were significantly more difficult to obtain and took significantly longer to complete than those from other grades. Several consultants were inadequately trained in the use of OnWBAs, and most were unaware of the number of assessments required by trainees.


This study highlights several issues that may detract from the functionality of OnWBAs. Pockets of consultants are inadequately trained in the use of OnWBAs, and many lack knowledge of trainee requirements. In addition the delay between assessment and completion of feedback is a concern that goes against current recommendations. Simple measures in the workplace and the involvement of educational bodies could remedy some of these issues. Further studies investigating a wider population would help to establish the true extent of the problem and isolate the main causative factors behind these issues.

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