MANUSCRIPT: An electronic portfolio for quantitative assessment of surgical skills in undergraduate medical education
We evaluated a newly designed electronic portfolio (e-Portfolio) that provided quantitative evaluation of surgical skills. Medical students at the University of Seville used the e-Portfolio on a voluntary basis for evaluation of their performance in undergraduate surgical subjects.
Our new web-based e-Portfolio was designed to evaluate surgical practical knowledge and skills targets. Students recorded each activity on a form, attached evidence, and added their reflections. Students self-assessed their practical knowledge using qualitative criteria (yes/no), and graded their skills according to complexity (basic/advanced) and participation (observer/assistant/independent). A numerical value was assigned to each activity, and the values of all activities were summated to obtain the total score. The application automatically displayed quantitative feedback. We performed qualitative evaluation of the perceived usefulness of the e-Portfolio and quantitative evaluation of the targets achieved.
Thirty-seven of 112 students (33%) used the e-Portfolio, of which 87% reported that they understood the methodology of the portfolio. All students reported an improved understanding of their learning objectives resulting from the numerical visualization of progress, all students reported that the quantitative feedback encouraged their learning, and 79% of students felt that their teachers were more available because they were using the e-Portfolio. Only 51.3% of students reported that the reflective aspects of learning were useful. Individual students achieved a maximum of 65% of the total targets and 87% of the skills targets. The mean total score was 345 ± 38 points. For basic skills, 92% of students achieved the maximum score for participation as an independent operator, and all achieved the maximum scores for participation as an observer and assistant. For complex skills, 62% of students achieved the maximum score for participation as an independent operator, and 98% achieved the maximum scores for participation as an observer or assistant.
Medical students reported that use of an electronic portfolio that provided quantitative feedback on their progress was useful when the number and complexity of targets were appropriate, but not when the portfolio offered only formative evaluations based on reflection. Students felt that use of the e-Portfolio guided their learning process by indicating knowledge gaps to themselves and teachers.