Fixation on Histology

Using Assessments to Guide Instruction and Professional Development

Effective Self AssessmentWhat to teach and how long to teach it is the question that many educators and professional development managers often ask themselves.  Believe it or not, the answer to this question can change from year to year – or even class to class.  Those in charge of education often rely on resources like ASCP content outlines or CAP checklists to guide their educational decisions. While those are great resources, they often include A LOT of information you may not have the time to cover, or the learner may not be interested in learning (because they are already comfortable with the topic).   One great tool to help makes these decisions are short assessments based on one fundamental question: Why are you measuring? By asking this question, you can 1) identify the type of assessment needed (we will cover a couple of examples below); 2) determine areas of competency/knowledge that may be lacking for an individual or group; and 3) make appropriate educational or professional development selections to fill the gaps.

Example Assessment Types

Self-questionnaire: A self-assessment is a process that begins with identifying strengths, weaknesses, and gaps and concludes with action to address those gaps or weaknesses and build on the strengths (World Health Organization, 2010).  This is a great assessment option if you are trying to determine what your learners, as a group, would benefit most from learning.  When creating a self-assessment questionnaire, be sure to focus the questions on the subject areas that matter to your lab, like lab safety, IHC, etc.  The questions can be specific to gauge knowledge level (see example below), broad to gauge interest, or a combination of both types. 

I am comfortable explaining our lab’s fire safety plan to others:

  1. Strongly Agree
  2. Agree
  3. Disagree
  4. Strongly Disagree

Constructed Response:  A constructed response assessment calls for the learner to produce something instead of selecting the correct response.  This is an excellent option if you wish for your learners or staff to contribute to the professional content in the lab, like protocol documentation or SOPs.  The upside of this assessment type is that you can determine who can teach others not only the documentation process but also the skills that they are sharing in that document.  The downside to this type of assessment is the amount of time it takes to review the document and then teach the learner the skills needed to complete the task (if they did not do so successfully).  From a learner’s perspective, this is a skill that they can use in most professional settings, so there is also the benefit of professional growth that is valuable to the learner. 

No matter what form of assessment you like to use, the data and information collected can help you determine the knowledge gaps of your learners or staff, allowing you to find the appropriate training specific to your staff to fill those gaps.  

If you are interested in learning more about assessment and other educational topics, register for the 2021 Educator Series, taking place December 7th-9th.

Written by:  Connie Wildeman, MPA