Situational analysis of ‘Virtual evaluation,’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic for future exploration! - An experience from a single-center study
Keywords:Situational Analysis, Virtual Evaluvation, Exam
On 20th March 2020, the Himachal Pradesh hilly state of India reported its first two cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Kangra district. Since then, to date, the COVID-19 pandemic is ensuing in this state. In compliance with the MCI directive, the Department of Community Medicine, of Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla (HP), ventured and conducted the summative assessment process successfully. The prime objective of this situation analysis was to identify barriers and facilitators of the virtual test as such, with future exploration. Four examinees were evaluated by two external and internal evaluators each. The exam was conducted for two days consecutively with multiple stages, with on physical site presence of an external evaluator and another through a virtual online platform. Strengths observed from an examiner’s point of view, online evaluation reduces the cost, time, and need of traveling, accommodation, paper, and printing. Examiner’s availability was increased substantially as they can easily dedicate this much time for evaluation from their schedule. From the examinee point of view, it reduces the stress of the physical presence of an external evaluator for cross-checking the case findings of patients. One of the weakness identified was that the online mode makes the cross-sectional view more tubular, decreasing the validity of the practical exams. OSCE was not applicable in a true sense as no real exposure and assessment of clinical cases could be done. The primary threat observed was a breach of confidentiality in the online transfer of data and evaluation of answer sheets. In future blended assessment, both online assessment and in-person assessment is foreseeable and feasible. Although the emergence of COVID-19, had put forth the challenge of conduct of examination without the physical involvement of an external evaluator, it was instrumental in putting forth opportunity and involvement of external evaluators even from far off premier institutes of India. Any further systematic and well-defined methodical progress on the pattern of online assessment can further break the natural barriers of knowledge dissemination. As this situational analysis, of the experience of evaluation, conducted pertains to a single centre of evaluation, generalizability is limited. To conclude, COVID-19 had led all evaluators to think differently and innovate accordingly in an unprecedented situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To conclude, virtual evaluation can further be subjected to the feasible, foreseeable reality of future assessment methods in different settings.
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