Helping doctors stay current through longitudinal assessment: The ABMS approach

Date:  Sunday 6 September 2020
Time:  1330-1630
Location:  Boisdale 2, SEC Loch Suite

  • David Swanson, American Board of Medical Specialties and University of Melbourne, USA
  • Richard Hawkins, American Board of Medical Specialties, USA

Summary of theme and why it is important:  The majority of the 24 member Boards in the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) are introducing longitudinal assessment programs (LAPS) as part of the continuing certification programs offered to their diplomates. Incorporating principles of test-enhanced learning (spaced repetition, rehearsal practice) and advances in internet-based assessment (including delivery on mobile devices), the LAPs are designed to make continuing certification programs more relevant, effective, and enjoyable. Like progress tests used in undergraduate medical education and in-training examinations in postgraduate education, LAPs use a system of frequent, lower-stakes assessments. Program design draws on principles of programmatic assessment to assist diplomates prospectively in learning, retaining, and applying practice-relevant information, providing immediate feedback on performance and identifying individual participant’s areas of weakness for remediation by aggregating results over time. The workshop will begin with a brief review of principles of test-enhanced learning and an overview of issues in LAP design. Using family medicine (general practice) as an example, the remainder of the session will be devoted to an “unfolding” LAP design exercise. Attendees will be divided into groups to address the following decisions sequentially: 1) the education or practice setting(s) and content coverage to be reflected in the LAP; 2) the overall organization of the assessment and question formats to be used; and 3) assessment length and frequency, including the approach to retesting of content through spaced repetition. The rationale for design decisions will be discussed at each stage as the exercise unfolds. Attendees will receive the slides and handouts used in the session, along with a list of key references related to test enhanced learning and programmatic assessment.
What participants will gain:  As a result of attending the workshop, participants will be able to • Describe the research underpinning the use of longitudinal assessments to promote learning and retention • Identify key decisions in design of longitudinal assessment programs • Discuss inter-relationships and trade-offs among design decisions
Who should participate:  Faculty and staff involved in development of self-assessment programs for doctors in training and in practice.
Level of workshop:  Intermediate – some familiarity with principles of test-enhanced learning, programmatic assessment, and design of self-assessments is desirable.

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