Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Comparison of Pharmacy Students' Perceived and Actual Knowledge Using the Pharmacy Curricular Outcomes Assessment

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Comparison of Pharmacy Students' Perceived and Actual Knowledge Using the Pharmacy Curricular Outcomes Assessment

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In their Accreditation Standards and Guidelines 2007, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) placed increased emphasis on assessing and evaluating programmatic outcomes using standardized instruments and data to allow comparisons with other programs. (1) To assist programs in gathering assessment data for accreditation, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) and ACPE developed Curriculum Quality Perception Surveys, which are standardized instruments designed to be administered to students, faculty members, preceptors, and alumni. (2) Data from the Curriculum Quality Perception Surveys is required to assess 25 out of the 30 accreditation standards, including Standard No. 3, Evaluation of Achievement of Mission and Goals, and Standard No. 15, Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning and Curricular Effectiveness. (3)

Surveys that capture perceptions and opinions are commonly used in health science research. (4) At the same time, research published in health science literature provides some evidence to support discordance when perceptions are compared to external measures (ie, reality). For instance, an older review of 14 studies involving health professions training found students generally were overconfident in their perception of knowledge, with only low to moderate correlations found between students' perceived knowledge and external measurements. (5) Senior-level bachelor of science in pharmacy (BS Pharm) students, consistently overestimated their clinical knowledge as evident when compared with their scores on external assessments. (6) In 3 studies that looked at actual and self-perceived knowledge of diabetes among nurses, 2 found a positive correlation between perceived knowledge and actual diabetes knowledge, while the other study found no correlation. (7-9) Studies comparing the accuracy of physician self-assessment and external assessments also reported weak or no association. (10,11) Interestingly, with regard to skill performance, a few studies in the health professions found that those who were the most confident in their skills performed the worst on external assessments. (12,13) Using data from perception surveys to evaluate program quality and guide curricular development can be problematic if pharmacy students' accuracy in self-assessing their knowledge, skills, and ability is flawed.

Examinations are commonly used to validate a student's knowledge, skills, and ability. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) essentially assesses whether a student possesses the minimum knowledge necessary to practice pharmacy in the United States. The Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) is a national standardized examination created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to assess the academic progress of pharmacy students and guide curriculum development. (14) Content of the PCOA falls into 4 domains corresponding to the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) core curriculum as defined by ACPE Standard 13: basic biomedical sciences; pharmaceutical sciences; social, behavioral, and administrative pharmacy; and clinical sciences. Assessment data generated from the PCOA, therefore, may provide a valid and reliable external measurement of a student's pharmacy knowledge.

The North Dakota State University College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences (COPNAS) decided to administer the PCOA to students in their third year as a low-stakes, voluntary, free, and formative assessment to determine the value of the PCOA as a measure of curricular effectiveness to meet ACPE Accreditation Standard No 15. If students' perceptions of their knowledge were found to be reliable indicators of actual knowledge, the researchers might conclude that the cost (eg, time and financial) of administering the PCOA exceeded its benefit. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to determine whether a correlation existed between third-year PharmD students' perceived and actual pharmacy knowledge as assessed by the PCOA. …

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