MITE Monthly Tip
The Objective Structured Teaching Exercise (OSTE): Tips for Faculty Development
Corinn Martineau, PharmD, BCACP, CDOE
It is clear that faculty development is important to enhance clinical teaching skills, however there are few objective measures of the impact of faculty development on these skills. An Objective Structured Teaching Exercise (OSTE) is both a training modality and an assessment method for the teaching skills of faculty members, preceptors, and residents. Similar to the idea of the well-known OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination), the OSTE offers opportunities to engage in and practice targeted teaching skills with a standardized student (1).
Take a moment to think, “When was the last time I was observed teaching a student or resident in my clinical setting?” Clinical educators are rarely observed teaching in their clinical environment and rarely receive feedback from peers with only minimal feedback from learners. Quality of clinical teaching is generally measured by written evaluations from learners, however these generally tend to comment on a teacher’s communication skills or interest in teaching and not concrete skills.
The OSTE’s simulated teaching scenario and utilization of the standardized learner provides the opportunity for the faculty member or preceptor to develop and practice key teaching skills while being assessed objectively with immediate feedback provided to the teacher. Some of the key benefits of this modality are the ability to adjust scenarios to provide a range of difficulties (support both your junior faculty and senior faculty), provide control over the variable clinical setting, and the chance to practice teaching skills and receive immediate feedback in a safe environment (2). Furthermore, the OSTE may offer interprofessional faculty training opportunities to engage faculty members that are involved in teaching a variety of professional learners, for example, a Clinical Pharmacist Faculty member developing skills in teaching a standardized Family Medicine Resident.
Boillat and colleagues provide wonderful insight and important tips on how to use the OSTE as a faculty and preceptor development tool. Summarized below are key tips and themes gathered from their work (2):
Clarify the Goal
- What specific teaching skill are you looking to develop or enhance?
- Is the teacher a seasoned faculty member or a first-year resident completing a Residents as Teachers curriculum?
- A needs assessment may be helpful prior to this step to clarify the goal prior to the creation of the scenario.
- If the OSTE is something to be incorporated into a faculty development curriculum, a needs assessment might help identify trends multiple faculty members hope to improve upon.
Determine Context and Target Audience
- Will the OSTE be one component of a larger faculty development curriculum?
- Will your target audience be junior preceptors or experienced faculty?
- This will help to guide the level of difficulty of your scenarios.
- Consider space restrictions and/or availability of standardized learners.
Identify the Teaching Skill to be Addressed
- Teaching skills to be addressed should be observable behaviors that can be measured.
- Will the scenario be focused on the ability to teach a specific procedure or focused on a specific competency such as communication?
- The sky is the limit here! Refer to the article for many helpful examples.
Prepare the Scenario
- Consider focusing on a scenario that is based upon real life situations.
- Perhaps the OSTE illustrates a specific teaching challenge discovered during your needs assessment.
- Scripts should be detailed leaving minimal room for improvisation
- Make sure the scenario is relevant to all preceptors or faculty participating.
- Consider altering scenarios for teachers from different disciplines
Develop the Assessment Tool
- Assessment is key and may be formative or summative.
- Consider an objective assessment tool that outlines the observable behaviors of the teaching skill
- Assessment may include self-assessment, assessment by standardized student(s), and assessment by peer-teachers.
In summary, the OSTE is a unique teacher and faculty development modality that consists of a standardized teaching encounter with a standardized learner and an iterative process of feedback and practice for the teacher. OSTEs are a strong faculty development tool as they offer genuine scenarios, objective, real-time assessment, and direct feedback from peers and learners. Furthermore, OSTEs can offer opportunity for targeted faculty development based upon a needs assessment with opportunity for repeated practice.
- Sturpe DA, Schaivone KA. A primer for objective structured teaching exercises. Am J Pharm Educ. 2014;78(5):104.
- Boillat M, Bethune C, Ohle E, Razack S, Steinert Y. Twelve tips for using the objective structured teaching exercise for faculty development. Med Teach. 2012;34(4):269-273.
- Trowbridge RL, Snydman LK, Skolfield J, Hafler J, Bing-You RG. A systematic review of the use and effectiveness of the objective structured teaching encounter. Med Teach. 2011;33(11):893-903.
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