Advances in Health Sciences Education
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Competency-based assessment is undergoing an evolution with the popularisation of programmatic assessment. Fundamental to programmatic assessment are the attributes and buy-in of the people participating in the system. Our previous research revealed unspoken, yet influential, cultural and relationship dynamics that interact with programmatic assessment to influence success. Pulling at this thread, we conducted secondary analysis of focus groups and interviews (n = 44 supervisors) using the critical lens of Positioning Theory to explore how workplace supervisors experienced and perceived their positioning within programmatic assessment. We found that supervisors positioned themselves in two of three ways. First, supervisors universally positioned themselves as a Teacher, describing an inherent duty to educate students. Enactment of this position was dichotomous, with some supervisors ascribing a passive and disempowered position onto students while others empowered students by cultivating an egalitarian teaching relationship. Second, two mutually exclusive positions were described—either Gatekeeper or Team Member. Supervisors positioning themselves as Gatekeepers had a duty to protect the community and were vigilant to the detection of inadequate student performance. Programmatic assessment challenged this positioning by reorientating supervisor rights and duties which diminished their perceived authority and led to frustration and resistance. In contrast, Team Members enacted a right to make a valuable contribution to programmatic assessment and felt liberated from the burden of assessment, enabling them to assent power shifts towards students and the university. Identifying supervisor positions revealed how programmatic assessment challenged traditional structures and ideologies, impeding success, and provides insights into supporting supervisors in programmatic assessment.
Available for download on Tuesday, December 05, 2023