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Assessing Skills and Abilities Through Oral and Practical Exams

Online Course Spotlight

AMTA’s Master the Classroom online course series offers high-quality  and targeted courses for massage therapy instructors. Educators can complete the courses at their own pace while earning valuable CEs. This issue’s featured course is Assessing Skills and Abilities Through Oral and Practical Exams. Assessments are critical to ensuring student learning and long-term success. Below is an excerpt from the course.

The Purpose of Assessments

As massage therapy instructors, we observe students performing a variety of skills, including applying proper strokes and using effective draping and body mechanics. As educators, we are challenged to create assessments that are easy to use, provide information on areas needing correction, align with both course and program goals, and reflect workplace skills.

One of the main purposes of assessments is to improve student learning. Quality assessments produce a positive effect on a student’s behavior and performance. They also help in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the design of the course materials and activities. Quality assessments allow both the instructor and student to recognize if and when certain standards have been reached. While the information in this course can be used when creating new exams, it is primarily designed to assist in examining and modifying current oral and practical exams to produce a more effective and usable tool.

What are Assessment Criteria?

Criteria are commonly defined as the standards on which judgments or decisions are based. In other words, criteria provide guidance on what is and is not acceptable. All educational assessments have similar criteria that are separate from the subject or topic. Using criteria ensures that student performance will be based solely on what the student does and not be influenced by outside factors.

A well-designed performance meets the following criteria:

The student must know what is required to pass the test. Furthermore, the student must have been taught the necessary skills and had sufficient time to practice while supervised.

The person(s) doing the evaluation must know what answers and activities are acceptable and the criteria for rating them, including thorough understanding of the tasks required and any order in which they must be presented.

The setting, materials and equipment must be available and in good working condition. If multiple classes are sharing the same room, this effort might require some planning.

Ten criteria for designing and implementing oral and practical exams for massage therapy students:
  1. Fairness
  2. Validity
  3. Reliability
  4. Practicality
  5. Efficiency
  6. Intention of positive results
  7. Clear goals
  8. Clear criteria for evaluations
  9. Appropriate placement
  10. Appropriate testing

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