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Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)Project

Dr Anita O'Donovan is an Assistant Professor in the department of Radiation Therapy.

Here she talks about an Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)Project as part of the final year RTU44003 module in the BSc in Radiation Therapy

What might an ‘assignment brief’ look like for this assessment type in your context?  

The assignment brief for the 10 credit module RTU44003 Radiotherapy in Practice, completed in final year, would be similar to the following:

The purpose of the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is to bridge the gap between theory and clinical practice. This EBP project comprises 40% of the overall module assessment and consists of individual and group tasks, mostly facilitated by a dedicated discussion forum on Blackboard. Only the final group presentation takes place face-to-face. The structure comprises four components, in sequential order 1) journal club, 2) peer tutoring, 3) debate and 4) group presentation.

This assessment corresponds to the following learning outcomes from the module:

  • Critically evaluate evidence-based practice. 
  • Apply these evidence-based principles to patients with cancer, using a given disease site from clinical placement as a template.

Detailed rubrics guide students and grading processes for each individual component.

What are the main advantages of this assessment type?  

This approach comprises a series of tasks, designed to build interpersonal skills, and the ability to work collaboratively as part of a team, co-constructing knowledge in a peer learning process. These are all vital skills for a graduate radiation therapist, who works as part of a wider multidisciplinary team, and they align well with Trinity graduate attributes also. The use of online discussions facilitates peer learning, the development of a professional discourse and an ability to provide constructive criticism of peers’ arguments. This essentially allows the formation of online “communities of practice”.  Tasks are built in order of difficulty, with feedback after each one in order to provide timely feedback for “low stakes” assessment that can feed into more “high stakes” assignments.

What are the main challenges for using this assessment type?  

One challenge in this type of online assessment is that students need to be familiar with discussion fora on Blackboard, which they are by final year, especially with the increased use of these online resources.

Another challenge is that students are not hugely in favour of group assignments influencing some of their final degree award. However, there are still some individual tasks, and it is rationalised based on the importance of team skills for future clinical practice. This approach has also been validated by external examiners who similarly agree about its importance.

Why do you use this particular assessment type in a digital context? 

This type of assessment enables confirmation that students have acquired important graduate attributes and are able to critically evaluate their practice before graduation.

It provides an opportunity for students to apply theory to practice and to receive feedback if required. It also allows them to look more critically at their professional practice to see where improvements might be recommended. The benefit of doing it online is so that students can see each other’s contributions and appreciate different perspectives.

What advice would you give a colleague thinking about using this type of assessment?  

It’s an ideal way to align teaching with clinical placement, to provide “real world” relevance for assessment and to build students skills in communication and interpersonal skills for future practice. It is important to ensure that feedback is timely so that students can benefit in time for the next task in the project. 

Do you recommend any resources or technologies to support this type of digital assessment?  

For this type of assessment, Blackboard works very well.  

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