Objectives:The purpose of this project was to look for a correlation in students’ examination scores at four different levels within Life University’s chiropractic program: the 6th quarter Clinic Proficiency mid term exam (CP-M), the 7th quarter Entrance Proficiency “integrated” lab exam (EP-I), the 8th quarter OSCE (OSCE-8), and the 11th quarter OSCE (OSCE-11). The hypothesis was that there would be a positive correlation between scores at different levels; that is, students who scored well at the earlier levels will also have scored well on their more recent tests. Neither this correlation, nor the usefulness of these tests as predictors of future performance, had ever been examined.
Methods:This is a descriptive, non-experimental study, involving a retrospective analysis of students’ scores. We were able to identify 75 chiropractic students who took all 4 examinations between the fall of 2001 and the winter of 2005. This time period was chosen because of test format consistency and availability of scores. A correlation coefficient (Pearson r) was calculated for each set of test scores compared to each other.
Results: The strongest correlation found was between the CP-M and OSCE-11 tests (0.524); the weakest was between the EP-I and OSCE-8 tests (0.260). The correlation between the OSCE-11 and OSCE-8 tests was 0.472. For n=75, all values were statistically significant (p<.05).
Discussion: The correlations between test scores at different levels range from moderate (CP-M and OSCE-11) to very weak (EP-I and OSCE-8). None of the correlations are strong enough for scores at one level to be used as predictors for another level. Other authors have also reported low correlation between OSCE testing and other types of evaluations. However, the tests in this study have significant commonality, as they cover the same subject matter (though tested at different levels); some faculty members have been involved at all four levels; and the testing formats share many similarities. For these reasons the correlation should be higher than what we have found. The OSCE testing system was still a new program at Life University during much of the period of time captured in this study, and a number of refinements have since been made. Also, the proficiency classes have been reorganized to span two quarters and mark the beginning of the clinical education track classes in the DC curriculum. The intent of the clinical education track is to improve consistency and logical progression of teaching in a number of classes related by their emphasis on patient diagnosis and management. While the correlation between test scores at the different levels described above were not high, the institution now has at least one way to evaluate recent changes to the curriculum. A number of steps have been taken to improve students’ understanding and skills, as well as improve the conditions in which they are evaluated. A study similar to this one conducted following the winter 2007 OSCE-11 would be able to evaluate the effects of the restructuring.
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