IPE Final Exams? Challenges and Lessons Learned
Designing and implementing robust assessments of student learning within Interprofessional Practice and Education (IPE) curricula continue to present unique challenges for health profession educators. Currently, there is no universally adopted IPE content delivery and no standardized way to assess student learning of IPE content. As the field of IPE struggles to meet the needs of post-pandemic learners amid the growing complexity of the health care system, sharing assessment initiatives is a necessary and important step toward developing best practices in IPE assessment. The purpose of this presentation is to share the challenges and lessons learned from implementing a final exam into the IPE curriculum at Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU).
WesternU’s Final Exam Process:
The WesternU IPE curricula consists of requisite courses delivered virtually (Credit/No Credit) during the first two years of students’ pre-clinical education. Approximately 1,700 students from 9 programs (Dental Medicine, Nursing, Optometry, Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant Studies, Physical Therapy, Podiatric Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine) across 3 campuses participate annually, depending on the length and nature of each program. In the 2022-23 academic year, the IPE curriculum was expanded to include Health Systems Science learning objectives. Therefore, it became increasingly important to identify student knowledge gaps and collect reliable outcome data and we decided to administer a multiple-choice final exam.
Challenges and Lessons Learned:
As with many other aspects of large-scale IPE programs, our effort to gather student outcome data via an individual final exam proved logistically challenging. Scheduling in-person proctored exams for 11 programs took considerable time and coordination and resulted in significant variability in exam timing. Although all programs used the same Examsoft platform to administer exams, each had its own portal and item analysis report, which had to be manually combined. Despite these challenges, using Examsoft allowed us to ‘tag’ questions to course learning objectives and identify areas for curricular improvement, which was invaluable to curricular improvement efforts. We also learned that some students were vehemently against this type of assessment, especially if worth 30-50% of their final grade. Our students were understandably stressed at the addition of another exam to their schedules. This was exacerbated by their frustration that this process differed from the previous cohorts’ exams which were shorter and taken as a team. As we move toward improving outcome assessment in general and WesternU’s processes, it may be important to normalize a variety of assessment approaches within IPE curricula.