Benchmarking clinical reasoning in osteopathy / Symposium C

Background: Benchmarking between educational institutions is a vital component of quality assurance and contributes to greater consistency and quality in teaching and learning practices.

Objective: The aim of this project was to benchmark assessment of clinical reasoning across the clinical components of four osteopathic programs: Southern Cross University and Victoria University (Australia), Unitec (New Zealand) and the British School of Osteopathy (UK).

Methods: Learning objectives and clinical assessments from the final two years in each of the four programs were analysed to identify the types and frequency of assessments and the degree of alignment between learning objectives, Bloom’s taxonomy and core components of clinical reasoning.

Results: Six types of assessments were used to assess clinical reasoning, including portfolios of achievement, and peer review via report on the simulated performance of skills and actual performance in real time. Seventy eight percent of all learning outcomes aligned with Bloom’s Level 4 Analysis and above. Learning objects and marking criteria did not address all core components of clinical reasoning.

Conclusions: Results of the study demonstrated consistency across the institutions with regard to the types and frequency of assessments used to assess clinical reasoning and alignment of learning outcomes with higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (77.8% at Level 4 or above). Further research is required to benchmark the complex and diverse ways in which clinical reasoning is developed and assessed across the curriculum.


Dr Sandra Grace is a senior lecturer and course co-ordinator of the Masters of Osteopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University and a Research Fellow at the Education for Practice Institute, Charles Sturt University. Her roles include enhancing the scholarship and practice of osteopathy through teaching, student supervision, research and publications. She has extensive experience as a practitioner in private practice and as a curriculum developer, teacher and clinical supervisor in higher education. Sandra also has extensive research experience involving interprofessional practice, primary health care, practice-based education, and health service delivery.

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