Background: The Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies first implemented the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) in the final MB Examination in Medicine and Therapeutics during the 2000-2001 academic year. Simultaneously, the Child Health Department initiated faculty and student training, and instituted the OSCE as an assessment instrument during the Child Health (Paediatric) clerkship in year 5. The study set out to explore student acceptance of the OSCE as part of an evaluation of the Child Health clerkship.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was completed by successive groups of students immediately after the OSCE at the end of each clerkship rotation. Main outcome measures were student perception of examination attributes, which included the quality of instructions and organisation, the quality of performance, authenticity and transparency of the process, and usefulness of the OSCE as an assessment instrument compared to other formats.
Results: There was overwhelming acceptance of the OSCE in Child Health with respect to the comprehensiveness (90%), transparency (87%), fairness (70%) and authenticity of the required tasks (58-78%). However, students felt that it was a strong anxiety-producing experience. And concerns were expressed regarding the ambiguity of some questions and inadequacy of time for expected tasks.
Conclusion: Student feedback was invaluable in influencing faculty teaching, curriculum direction and appreciation of student opinion. Further psychometric evaluation will strengthen the development of the OSCE.