Resident Development via Progress Testing and Test-Marking: An Innovation and Program Evaluation
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INTRODUCTION: Since 2008, the McMaster University Royal College Emergency Medicine residency training program has run practice Short Answer Question (SAQ) examinations to help residents test their knowledge and gain practice in answering exam-style questions. However, marking this type of SAQ exam is time-consuming. METHODS: To help address this problem, we require that senior residents help mark at least one exam per year alongside faculty members. Examinees' identities are kept anonymous by assigning a random number to each resident, which is only decoded after marking. Aggregation of marks is done by faculty only. The senior residents and faculty members all share sequential marking of each question. Each question is reviewed, and exemplar "best practice" answers are discussed. As novel/unusual answers appear, instantaneous fact-checking (via textbooks, or the internet) and discussions occur allowing for real-time modification to the answer keys as needed. RESULTS: A total of 22 out of 37 residents (post graduate year 1 to post graduate year 5 (PGY1 to PGY5)) participated in a recent program evaluation focus group. This evaluation showed that residents feel quite positive about this process. With the anonymization process, residents do not object to their colleagues seeing and marking their answers. Senior residents have found this process informative and have felt that this process helps them gain insight into better "examsmanship." CONCLUSIONS: Involving residents in marking short-answer exams is acceptable and perceived as useful experience for improving exam-taking skills. More studies of similar innovations would be required to determine to what extent this may be the case.
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