Untapping Assessment Resources

Stefanie Banner

Stefanie Sebok-Syer, PhD, has experienced some game-changing moments in her life, which have taken her down unexpected pathways and led to new opportunities. Taking on a research contract with the faculty of medicine at Queen’s University and sitting on their OSCE exam committee definitely qualifies as one of those moments.

During her committee work, Sebok-Syer became fascinated by the complexity of the medical workplace environment. So much so, that the young doctoral trainee decided to change her dissertation from looking at large scale assessments and how assessment results are communicated to focusing on medical education.

Her continued interest has brought her to the Centre for Education Research & Innovation (CERI) to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship.

Now firmly ensconced in the world of medical education, Sebok-Syer is diving into three research projects supporting the School’s efforts with the transition to competency-based medical education (CBME) in postgraduate medical education.

“The three projects will be looking at untapped resources when it comes to assessment,” Sebok-Syer said enthusiastically.

Electronic records will serve as the resource for Sebok-Syer’s first project. She wants to determine if the records could offer information that could be used for feedback or the basis of formative dialogue with residents, and could in turn also be used for assessments.

The second project will look at cross-cutting assessors and whether or not assessments could be shared across the medical team that is working with a resident.

“For example, we want to determine if it would be possible for an anesthetist to do an assessment of a surgical resident, given their role in working alongside the resident," said Sebok-Syer.

The project aims to determine what domains could benefit from cross-cutting assessments, where it could be helpful and useful and what additional feedback and data could be provided through the approach.

Questioning the concept of the assessor as a coach will be the focus for the third research project. “We want to determine whether separating the role of assessor from the role of coach is useful or necessary to promote learning,” Sebok-Syer said.

Sebok-Syer has a great appreciation that moving to CBME means significant change for faculty, residents and staff and a different way of thinking. In the few months that she’s been at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, she’s participated in exciting and forward thinking discussions and she’s witnessed a supportive reaction to the transition of the new approach.

Several years ago, Sebok-Syer became fascinated with the world of medical education and how it embraced change. “One of the things I’ve always liked about medical education is its willingness to change things and be innovative. If you could demonstrate through literature or experience that an approach was better, the education teams were really receptive and ready to make the change almost immediately.”

She’s looking forward to contributing to and supporting the change to CBME and seeing the positive results for trainees and ultimately for patients.