Comparison of electronic versus conventional assessment methods in ophthalmology residents; a learner assessment scholarship study

BMC Med Educ. 2021 Jun 13;21(1):342. doi: 10.1186/s12909-021-02759-9.


Background: Assessment is a necessary part of training postgraduate medical residents. The implementation of methods located at the "shows how" level of Miller's pyramid is believed to be more effective than previous conventional tools. In this study, we quantitatively compared electronic and conventional methods in assessing ophthalmology residents.

Methods: In this retrospective study, eight different conventional methods of assessment including residents' attendance, logbook, scholarship and research skills, journal club, outpatient department participation, Multiple Choice Question (MCQ), Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), and professionalism/360-degree (as one complex) were used to assess 24 ophthalmology residents of all grades. Electronic media consisting of an online Patient Management Problem (e-PMP), and modified electronic OSCE (me-OSCE) tests performed 3 weeks later were also evaluated for each of the 24 residents. Quantitative analysis was then performed comparing the conventional and electronic assessment tools, statistically assessing the correlation between the two approaches.

Results: Twenty-four ophthalmology residents of different grades were included in this study. In the electronic assessment, average e-PMP scores (48.01 ± 12.40) were much lower than me-OSCE (65.34 ± 17.11). The total average electronic score was 56.67 ± 11.28, while the total average conventional score was 80.74 ± 5.99. Female and male residents' average scores in the electronic and conventional method were (59.15 ± 12.32 versus 83.01 ± 4.95) and (55.19 ± 10.77 versus 79.38 ± 6.29), respectively. The correlation between modified electronic OSCE and all conventional methods was not statistically significant (P-value >0.05). Correlation between e-PMP and six conventional methods, consisting of professionalism/360-degree assessment tool, logbook, research skills, Multiple Choice Questions, Outpatient department participation, and Journal club active participation was statistically significant (P-value < 0.05). The overall correlation between conventional and electronic methods was significant (P-value = 0.017).

Conclusion: In this study, we conclude that electronic PMP can be used alongside all conventional tools, and overall, e-assessment methods could replace currently used conventional methods. Combined electronic PMP and me-OSCE can be used as a replacement for currently used gold-standard assessment methods, including 360-degree assessment.

Keywords: Assessment; Conventional; Electronic; Ophthalmology residents; Scholarship study.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Educational Measurement
  • Electronics
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Ophthalmology*
  • Retrospective Studies