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Workplace Based Assessment (WBA)

The purpose of WBA

The primary purpose of WBA is to provide short loop feedback between trainers and their trainees – a formative assessment to support learning. They are designed to be mainly trainee-driven but may be triggered or guided by the trainer. The number of types and intensity of each type of WBA in any one assessment cycle will be initially determined by the Learning Agreement fashioned at the beginning of a training placement and regularly reviewed. The intensity may be altered to reflect progression and trainee need. For example a trainee in difficulty would undertake more frequent assessments above an agreed baseline for all trainees. In that sense WBAs meet the criterion of being adaptive.

WBAs are designed to do the following:

Provide feedback to trainers and trainees as part of the learning cycle

The most important use of the Workplace Based Assessments is in providing trainees with feedback that informs and develops their practice (formative). Each assessment is completed only for the purpose of providing meaningful feedback on one encounter. The assessments should be viewed as part of a process throughout training, enabling trainees to build on assessor feedback and chart their own progress. Trainees should complete more than the minimum number identified.

Provide formative guidance on practice

Surgical trainees can use different methods to assess themselves against important criteria (especially that of clinical reasoning and decision-making) as they learn and perform practical tasks. The methods also encourage dialogue between the trainee and Assigned Educational Supervisor (AES) and other clinical supervisors.

Encompass the assessment of skills, knowledge, behaviour and attitudes during day-to-day surgical practice

WBA is trainee-led; the trainee chooses the timing, the case and assessor under the guidance of the AES via the Learning Agreement. It is the trainee’s responsibility to ensure completion of the required number of the agreed type of assessments by the end of each placement.

Provide a reference point on which current levels of competence can be compared with those at the end of a particular stage of training

The primary aim is for trainees to use assessments throughout their training programmes to demonstrate their learning and development. At the start of a level it would be normal for trainees to have some assessments which are less than satisfactory because their performance is not yet at the standard for the completion of that level. In cases where assessments are less than satisfactory, trainees should repeat assessments as often as required to show progress.

Inform the AES’s (summative) assessment at the completion of each placement

Although the principal role of workplace assessment is formative, the summary evidence will be used to inform the annual review process and will contribute to the decision made as to how well the trainee is progressing.

Contribute towards a body of evidence held in the trainee’s learning portfolio and be made available for the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP)

At the end of a period of training, the trainee’s portfolio will be reviewed. The accumulation of formative assessments will be one of a range of indicators that inform the decision as to satisfactory completion of training at the ARCP.

The assessment methods used are: