Development of a research ethics knowledge and analytical skills assessment tool

Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (4):236-242 (2012)

Abstract
Introduction The goal of this project was to develop and validate a new tool to evaluate learners' knowledge and skills related to research ethics. Methods A core set of 50 questions from existing computer-based online teaching modules were identified, refined and supplemented to create a set of 74 multiple-choice, true/false and short answer questions. The questions were pilot-tested and item discrimination was calculated for each question. Poorly performing items were eliminated or refined. Two comparable assessment tools were created. These assessment tools were administered as a pre-test and post-test to a cohort of 58 Indian junior health research investigators before and after exposure to a new course on research ethics. Half of the investigators were exposed to the course online, the other half in person. Item discrimination was calculated for each question and Cronbach's α for each assessment tool. A final version of the assessment tool that incorporated the best questions from the pre-/post-test phase was used to assess retention of research ethics knowledge and skills 3 months after course delivery. Results The final version of the REKASA includes 41 items and had a Cronbach's α of 0.837. Conclusion The results illustrate, in one sample of learners, the successful, systematic development and use of a knowledge and skills assessment tool in research ethics capable of not only measuring basic knowledge in research ethics and oversight but also assessing learners' ability to apply ethics knowledge to the analytical task of reasoning through research ethics cases, without reliance on essay or discussion-based examination. These promising preliminary findings should be confirmed with additional groups of learners
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DOI 10.1136/medethics-2011-100025
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