Calibration of confidence and assessed clinical skills competence in undergraduate paediatric OSCE scenarios: a mixed methods study

Dara O'Donoghue, Gail Davison, Laura-Jo Hanna, Ben McNaughten, Michael Stevenson, Andrew Thompson

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9 Citations (Scopus)
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The relationship between confidence and competence in clinical skills development is complex but important. This study aims to determine undergraduate paediatric student confidence in performing three common paediatric clinical skills framed as Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) scenarios and to compare this with subsequent assessed performance. The study also aims to explore possible barriers to successful paediatric skills completion.

A mixed-methods study was conducted on medical students. Cross-sectional questionnaire data relating to confidence in performing a number of paediatric skills were compared with assessed paediatric skills competency. Focus groups were carried out to identify themes in paediatric skills completion to triangulate this data.

Eighty-five medical students participated in the study. Students had high levels of pre-test confidence in their ability to perform paediatrics skills. However agreement between pre-test confidence and subsequent task performance was poor and students had significantly greater belief in their skills ability than was subsequently demonstrated. Focus groups identified paediatric skills complexity, conflicting teaching and having limited supervised skills opportunities and as being possible contributory factors to this discrepancy.

Student paediatric skills confidence is not matched by performance. The reasons for this are diverse but mostly modifiable. A major factor is the lack of supervised skills experience with appropriate feedback to support students in learning to calibrate their confidence against their competence. A number of recommendations are made including the introduction of formative assessment opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number211
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2018


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