UNDA academic collects top accolade for new assessment model

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 19-7-2011

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



A proposal which would see clinical year Medicine students at Australian universities be tested on their critical reasoning skills to accurately manage patients has won University of Notre Dame academic, Dr Michael Wan, first prize at an international medical education conference.

Dr Wan, Head of Assessment (Medical Education Unit) at the School of Medicine, Sydney Campus, submitted an abstract titled: Using script concordance testing as a new modality of assessment for graduate entry medical students – a pilot study, to the 6th Congress of Asian Medical Education Association (AMEA).

He was awarded First Prize for Best Poster Presentation by a panel of international judges at the Congress held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, earlier this year.

Script concordance testing is a new modality of assessment in medical education where third and fourth year medical students are given a clinical scenario. They are then provided with additional background information to determine the likelihood of a particular diagnosis or the appropriateness of various investigations and management options.

The new model tests a student’s clinical reasoning and problem solving ability and how they apply this to ‘real-life’ scenarios.

Script concordance testing draws out a student's ability to think and reason like a medical professional. Prior to the assessment, a panel comprising several medical professionals will provide individual answers to the same questions given to the clinical year students.

Should the students’ answers to an assessment question concur with the majority of specialists in the panel, they are given full marks.

If their answer reflects a minority of specialists with a different opinion, students are still given a fraction of the total mark for that question.

The UNDA School of Medicine, Sydney, the University of Adelaide and the University of Montreal have collaborated to develop and implement the new script concordance testing questions for clinical year medical students.

Notre Dame’s Sydney Campus is one of the first universities in Australia to trial these types of questions in the assessment process for medical students.

“So far the feedback from students has been positive since they love the style of questions being asked as they relate to the clinical encounters that they would see every day in the ward,” Dr Wan said. “The questions are more realistic, but they are also more difficult to answer as there is no absolute right or wrong response and your answer must concur with the views held by the majority of medical specialists.”

Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at the School of Medicine, Sydney Campus, Associate Professor Rosa Canalese, says it’s a great achievement to be recognised for innovation in assessment methodology on a global level.

“To be at the forefront in this area is very exciting and to be acknowledged on the international stage is a fantastic achievement for such a young medical school,” Associate Professor Canalese said.

Media Contact: Leigh Dawson (+61) 8 9433 0569, Mob (+61) 0405 441 093