Developing a process of continuous quality improvement in medical school assessment processes: lessons from one school
Introduction: Setting high quality assessments for medical students can be a resource intensive exercise. This study explored the feasibility of coordinating and rationalising the use of expertise to set assessments and to raise the standard of those assessments. Method: A literature review on staff development for assessment was undertaken and the governance structure for assessment design and monitoring in our institution was explored. A manual was developed to outline issues around assessment and processes for improving assessments and this was distributed to key personnel involved in the assessment setting process. A two-day examination setting workshop was organised and evaluated. A database was then developed to be used for ongoing review of assessment data. Results: This process worked well in our institution. It fostered a more systematic approach to setting and improving assessments and engaged more content experts in the process, raising awareness of the knowledge required to develop good quality examination questions. Participants in the examination setting workshop reported they felt more competent in writing multiple choice questions, modified essay questions and in designing OSCE stations. Conclusions: This preliminary development of a model for continuous quality improvement in our institution will encourage a more systematic approach to assessment setting.