Purpose. To evaluate the implementation of a quarterly group objective structured clinical examination (GOSCE) to assess the patient-evaluation abilities of a medical school class. Method. The study subjects were 94 first-year students participating in the Principles of Clinical Medicine course at the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine in 1992-93. To create the GOSCE, the authors modified the format of the quarterly objective structured clinical examination by making each standardized-patient station the site of an interaction between a standardized patient and a group of four or five students. The GOSCE’s reliability, content and face validity, and expense were evaluated. Student feedback was obtained using a structured questionnaire. Results. Performances varied both among the five stations of the GOSCE and among the 23 student groups: the mean percentage of items performed correctly per station was 83%, with a range of 73-97%. The reliability of the GOSCE’s stations was low, with intraclass correlations during the three consecutive quarters of .29, -.05, and .12. Despite no prior experience with this type of testing, the students’ mean rating of the GOSCE’s appropriateness was 3.8 (on a Likert scale of 1, poor, to 5, excellent), compared with 2.5 for the appropriateness of the written examination also used for quarterly assessment. The expense of the GOSCE was much less than the costs reported for the OSCE format. Conclusion. The use of the quarterly GOSCE favorably influenced the students, faculty, and curriculum. The GOSCE format made possible the assessment of a large number of students’ abilities, without the time and expense needed to evaluate students individually.
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