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A fresh approach to formative assessment

Published: 24 January, 2016

ARCADO – a fresh approach to formative assessment of GP registrars

Far from showing a preoccupation with grandiose slot machines or buying super veg, an Australian study published in December looked at the flexibility and validity of a new form of workplace-based formative assessment.

Assessment reliability is improved by using multiple assessment methods. Observation of consultations is core to the current approach to general practice training in Australia. This study looked at Adding Random Case Analysis to Direct Observation (ARCADO).  GP assessors pluck random case notes from the files and discuss with trainee GPs how they would handle that particular person?  Ten trainee GPs and eight assessors took part in the study.

The strengths of this approach were seen as acceptability, flexibility, time-efficiency, complementarity and authenticity.

Downsides were perceived as reduced time for observation and ‘integrity risks.’ Factors that might affect such an assessment included variation in assessment content, timing of the assessment, the approach the assessor takes to this dialogue, and the relationship between the trainee and the assessor as well as the ability of the trainee.

The team concluded that ARCADO is a well-accepted, valid and flexible workplace-based formative yielding complementary insights which would not have been gained through direct observation alone. Contextual factors need to be considered.

ARCADO – Adding random case analysis to direct observation in workplace-based formative assessment of general practice registrars
BMC Medical Education Dec 2015 15:218

Last updated: 21 May, 2018

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