A unified approach to validation, reliability, and education study design for surgical technical skills training

Arch Surg. 2010 Feb;145(2):197-201. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.2009.266.


Objective: To present modern educational psychology theory and apply these concepts to validity and reliability of surgical skills training and assessment.

Design: In a series of cross-disciplinary meetings, we applied a unified approach of behavioral science principles and theory to medical technical skills education given the recent advances in the theories in the field of behavioral psychology and statistics.

Conclusions: While validation of the individual simulation tools is important, it is only one piece of a multimodal curriculum that in and of itself deserves examination and study. We propose concurrent validation throughout the design of simulation-based curriculum rather than once it is complete. We embrace the concept that validity and curriculum development are interdependent, ongoing processes that are never truly complete. Individual predictive, construct, content, and face validity aspects should not be considered separately but as interdependent and complementary toward an end application. Such an approach could help guide our acceptance and appropriate application of these exciting new training and assessment tools for technical skills training in medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Competency-Based Education / organization & administration*
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Psychology, Educational*
  • Reproducibility of Results