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Introduction of Objective Structured Clinical Examination, an assessment method for undergraduate students in a dental school

Irfan Adil Majid, Fazeena Karimalakuzhiyil Alikutty, Syed Mukith ur Rahaman.


Objective: Undergraduate education in a dentistry program aims to produce competent practitioners equipped with appropriate knowledge, behavior, attitudes and skills necessary to blend into independent dental practice. Assessment is crucial in the learning process of the students, and assessment drives learning is universally accepted. A number of traditional assessment methods are in common use; lately, Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been suggested to assess the clinical competencies and skills in health sciences. Argyris recommended developing an implementation strategy of advocacy and inquiry to encourage the acceptance of personal responsibility to overcome resistance (to changes being introduced into the existing assessment system). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of implementation strategy by measuring the attitudes of both staff and students towards OSCE in a dental school.
Methods: Following sequential steps of providing information, advocacy, participation to minimize resistance towards introduction of OSCE in the course of oral medicine, fourteen staff members and thirty six students participated in pilot/mini OSCE which included one rest and five test stations. Later, a more definitive final OSCE was designed with 10 test plus one rest station. After completion of both pilot/mini and final OSCE, a questionnaire adopted from a previously conducted study was answered by the staff and students.
Results: The staff scores were significantly higher following the final OSCE for all the questions except “increase use”. In the student group, “increase use” and “difficulty/ease” improved from pilot to final OSCE, but the difference was statistically insignificant. Comparison between the groups revealed staff were significantly more enthusiastic, believed the use of OSCE to be increased and felt the test was relevant.
Conclusion: Involvement, participation and joint control of the staff in designing and developing the OSCE stations and its implementation led to a successful implementation of the new assessment method.

Key words: OSCE, clinical competency assessment, undergraduate dental education, management of change.

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