I am currently considering the issues involved with working with distance midwifery students, especially in terms of assessment. I have the job of devising an Objective Structured Clinical Assessment (OSCA) exam (some people call them OSCEs). What I want to test is students' knowledge and how they integrate it into clinical practice; safety ie students understand the concepts of safe clinical practice, and communication skills.
In the past I have managed these exams on campus. But at Griffith University we have quite a few distance midwifery students, so I am thinking about how we can manage the OSCAs so they are reliable and equitable, yet meet the needs of the distance students and possibly not require them to come onto campus.
I did think of video but that will be too time consuming for me to watch 40 odd videos. It isn't interactive so lecturers will be unable to give students just-in-time feedback that supports them to pass the OSCA.
The other option would be to run individual OSCAs in the students' home location, asking midwives in the local hospitals to do the assessment. It goes without saying that the midwives would receive training and support to carry out the assessment. However, I am concerned about reliability, equity and moderation...the more assessors involved with this form of exam, the greater the chance of inaccuracies. I am also concerned that midwives would find it very difficult to "fail" students.
I'd love to hear from any other health educators who face similar challenges - what would you advise me according to your personal experience? I'd also be interested in hearing from midwifery students - what do you think about OSCAs?
Or, should I be thinking of using other forms of assessment?