Student Perceptions of the Effectiveness of an Oral Component within the Anatomy Practical Exam
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine students’ perceptions of the oral component of the anatomy practical (oral exam) and any impact it had on content retention or preparedness for other courses or clinical rotations. Many courses throughout the Doctor of Physical Therapy program curriculum utilize oral exam components during practical testing. The authors wanted to explore the integration and effectiveness of an oral exam within the first semester anatomy course of the DPT curriculum. The oral exams may also assist in preparing students for clinical education which often utilizes an oral defense from the student to the clinical instructor. This study examines the potential benefits and challenges of incorporating the oral exam into an anatomy practical. Methods/Description: The survey was administered to 117 DPT students from 3 cohorts, all of which participated in the same anatomy course that included 3 practicals, each with an oral exam. 92 students completed a 17 question survey that included a combination of yes/no, Likert scale, and short answer responses. The survey examined the oral exam and its impact on content retention, preparedness for other aspects of the anatomy class and subsequent courses and overall student impressions. Questions were generated through Survey Monkey and responses were anonymous, participation was voluntary and completion had no impact on course grading. Results/Outcomes: Our survey had a 78.6% compliance rate and 21.4% drop-out rate for final statistical analysis (92 surveys returned out of 117). Only 44.6% of students completed oral exams in prior education. 82.6% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that they modified their study techniques for the oral exam. When asked if they felt they needed to be more prepared due to direct professorial questioning, 70.6% of students either agreed or strongly agreed. 79.4% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that the oral exam prepared them for future practicals in other courses. As communication is an integral part of clinical practice, when asked if the oral exam prepared students in this aspect, 69.6% of students either agreed or strongly agreed. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: It is evident that participating students believe that being tested orally contributes to their mastery of doctoral level anatomy and future preparation for practical exams and clinical education. Further research is needed to establish the degree of success that can be attributed to this type of testing compared to students who did not complete an oral exam. Overall, students appreciated the early integration of practical exams exams and felt they were better prepared overall in terms of anatomical mastery a preparation for the remainder of the DPT curriculum.