Benchmarking the strategies for assessing clinical reasoning in osteopathic curricula

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Moore, K, Grace, S, Orrock, PJ, Coutts, RA, Blaich, R & Vaughan, B 2014, 'Benchmarking the strategies for assessing clinical reasoning in osteopathic curricula', International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 187-198.

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Benchmarking between educational institutions is a vital component of quality assurance and contributes to greater consistency and quality in teaching and learning practices. The investigation of clinical reasoning in osteopathy has only recently begun to be explored in depth. Benchmarking builds confidence in our education practices and processes and demonstrates a maturing of the osteopathic academic profession.


The aim of this project was to benchmark the assessment strategy used for clinical reasoning across the final two years of the clinical components of four osteopathic programs.


Learning objectives and clinical assessments from the final two years in each of the four programs were analysed to identify the types and frequency of assessments and the degree of alignment between learning objectives and Bloom's taxonomy and Miller's heirarchy.


Representatives from Southern Cross University, Australia, Victoria University, Australia, Unitec, New Zealand and the British School of Osteopathy, UK.


All institutions assess clinical reasoning in a variety of ways such as the assessment of student's actual performance during real-time, in-situ clinical consultations; the assessment of simulated performance; the clinical supervisors' report and; oral or written reports - on simulated case study. The results show that the osteopathy teaching institutions in the present study do not scaffold the expected learning objectives to reflect an increase in difficulty as the student's progress; the learning objectives tend to be clustered and relatively stable. However, this may be a reflection of only investigating the final years of an osteopathy teaching program. This opens the field for future research.


It would be worthwhile if future studies benchmarked the criteria used in clinical assessments and made explicit the key professional values related to assessing clinical competencies in line with the Core Competencies outlined in the World Health Organization's Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy.

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