Team Objective Structured Bedside Assessment (TOSBA) as formative assessment in undergraduate Obstetrics and Gynaecology: a cohort study.

BACKGROUND: Team Objective Structured Bedside Assessment (TOSBA) is a learning approach in which a team of medical students undertake a set of structured clinical tasks with real patients in order to reach a diagnosis and formulate a management plan and receive immediate feedback on their performance from a facilitator. TOSBA was introduced as formative assessment to an 8-week undergraduate teaching programme in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) in 2013/14. Each student completed 5 TOSBA sessions during the rotation. The aim of the study was to evaluate TOSBA as a teaching method to provide formative assessment for medical students during their clinical rotation. The research questions were: Does TOSBA improve clinical, communication and/or reasoning skills? Does TOSBA provide quality feedback?

METHODS: A prospective cohort study was conducted over a full academic year (2013/14). The study used 2 methods to evaluate TOSBA as a teaching method to provide formative assessment: (1) an online survey of TOSBA at the end of the rotation and (2) a comparison of the student performance in TOSBA with their performance in the final summative examination.

RESULTS: During the 2013/14 academic year, 157 students completed the O&G programme and the final summative examination . Each student completed the required 5 TOSBA tasks. The response rate to the student survey was 68 % (n = 107/157). Students reported that TOSBA was a beneficial learning experience with a positive impact on clinical, communication and reasoning skills. Students rated the quality of feedback provided by TOSBA as high. Students identified the observation of the performance and feedback of other students within their TOSBA team as key features. High achieving students performed well in both TOSBA and summative assessments. The majority of students who performed poorly in TOSBA subsequently passed the summative assessments (n = 20/21, 95 %). Conversely, the majority of students who failed the summative assessments had satisfactory scores in TOSBA (n = 6/7, 86 %).

CONCLUSIONS: TOSBA has a positive impact on the clinical, communication and reasoning skills of medical students through the provision of high-quality feedback. The use of structured pre-defined tasks, the observation of the performance and feedback of other students and the use of real patients are key elements of TOSBA. Avoiding student complacency and providing accurate feedback from TOSBA are on-going challenges.