Defining purpose, assessment criteria and standards for student research / Workshop A

Most osteopathic educational institutions (OEIs) require students to complete a research project, which is normally supported by some form of external monitoring using examiners from other institutions. This workshop interactively explores the benefits and problems arising from this, including: lack of agreement about the purpose of student research, which may relate to academic, political and financial factors influencing each institution’s culture and can lead to tension between educational process and research outcomes and lead to inappropriate marking by external assessors; the role of criticality, how it is understood and underpins other parts of students’ educational experiences, including the ability to work effectively with clinical uncertainty in complex, evidence-based healthcare environments and; the need for OEIs to agree standards.

The workshop will explore the need for criticality to be explicitly embedded in OEIs’ pedagogical culture because, unless students can question underlying osteopathic premises, they fail to develop deeper enquiry-based research skills relevant to practice. Lack of criticality can explain much of small-scale research’s failure to produce credible evidence and may also limit larger collaborative projects and promote negative images of osteopathic research.

By the end of the workshop, participants will have explored why different OEIs might require students to study research and why criticality is considered to be a core research-related competence for effective practice in evidence-based healthcare. Participants will also have considered how reflective skills develop within explicit pedagogical ‘cultures of criticality’, to promote enhanced educational outcomes and stimulate discussion between OEIs about agreed assessment standards for osteopathic student research.

Stephen Tyreman is Dean of Osteopathic Education Development at the British School of Osteopathy, Professor of Philosophy and Osteopathy at the University of Bedfordshire and Professor with the University College of Health Sciences, Oslo. He completed his PhD in 2001 with a thesis on the Concept of Function in Osteopathy.

Hilary Abbey works at the British School of Osteopathy, supervising clinical practice and student research, and has published articles on student assessment and mindfulness. She has an MSc in Osteopathy, a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods and is currently studying for a Professional Doctorate, with research focusing on chronic pain.

Steven Vogel is Vice Principal (Research and Quality) at the British School of Osteopathy. He has led and collaborated in funded research and published widely, including national guidelines for persistent back pain. Steven edits the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine and has supervised undergraduate and postgraduate research to doctoral level.