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Successful use of a competency step exam in a perfusion education program.

The Journal of extra-corporeal technology. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
The perfusion education program at The Ohio State University uses a step exam to rank students and identify incompetent students in regard to the program learning objectives. The step exam determines student progress from the didactic to the clinical phase. Each student must pass the competency step exam to gain entry to the clinical rotations. The development, use, and results of the step exam are reported. The design and knowledge matrix establish the content validity of the exam. Single test question discrimination and difficulty statistics identify valid exam items. Examples of the exam's predictive ability are presented. The step exam is a 200-question exam using multiple choice items. The exam is modeled after several health-related national certification exam processes. The exam has content validity based on the published, written objectives for the education program. Each item on the exam has a history of use and meets criteria for difficulty, discrimination, and distraction. The use of a high-stake competency exam in clinical science and medical education programs is controversial and technically challenging. A step exam to have high-stake consequences must be reliable, meet requirements for content validity, and hopefully exhibit predictive validity.
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