A reliable and valid instrument to assess competency in basic surgical skills in second-year medical students

South Med J. 2007 Oct;100(10):985-90. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e3181514a29.


Background: Despite calls for competency based education, a dearth of validated instruments for measuring basic skills currently exists. We developed an instrument to assess competency in basic surgical skills in second-year medical students and tested it for psychometric reliability and validity.

Methods: From a review of the literature, an instrument comprised of numerically scaled items was constructed. After initial tests, several items were divided to produce a final instrument more specific and more appropriate for providing feedback to students. The final instrument was empirically tested for reliability and validity.

Results: The final 10-item instrument is presented here along with all of the empirical evidence including internal consistency reliability and interrater reliability, and content, criterion-related, and construct validity. Overall alpha reliability was 0.84 and interrater reliability was r = 0.83, P < 0.01 for the total scores. Factor analysis provided evidence of construct validity.

Conclusions: The instrument has psychometric properties adequate for use as one criterion for summative evaluation and is educationally practical enough to provide focused and detailed feedback for student improvement.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Competency-Based Education / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards*
  • Educational Measurement / standards*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Needles
  • Psychometrics
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Suture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Sutures