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Int J Med Educ. 2017 May 31;8:207-216. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5910.dc69.

Utility of an app-based system to improve feedback following workplace-based assessment.

Author information

1
School of Medicine, Keele University, UK.
2
Medical Education Unit, the University of Nottingham, UK.

Abstract

Objectives:

To determine whether an app-based software system to support production and storage of assessment feedback summaries makes workplace-based assessment easier for clinical tutors and enhances the educational impact on medical students.

Methods:

We monitored our workplace assessor app's usage by Year 3 to 5 medical students in 2014-15 and conducted focus groups with Year 4 medical students and interviews with clinical tutors who had used the apps. Analysis was by constant comparison using a framework based on elements of van der Vleuten's utility index.

Results:

The app may enhance the content of feedback for students. Using a screen may be distracting if the app is used during feedback discussions.    Educational impact was reduced by students' perceptions that an easy-to-produce feedback summary is less valuable than one requiring more tutor time and effort. Tutors' typing, dictation skills and their familiarity with mobile devices varied. This influenced their willingness to use the assessment and feedback mobile app rather than the equivalent web app. Electronic feedback summaries had more real and perceived uses than anticipated both for tutors and students including perceptions that they were for the school rather than the student.

Conclusions:

Electronic workplace-based assessment systems can be acceptable to tutors and can make giving detailed written feedback more practical but can interrupt the social interaction required for the feedback conversation. Tutor training and flexible systems will be required to minimise unwanted consequences. The educational impact on both tutors and students of providing pre-formulated advice within the app is worth further study.

KEYWORDS:

feedback culture; technology-enhanced learning; undergraduate medical education; workplace based assessment

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