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Anthea Cochrane and Dr Kwang Cham with the award-winning poster at the 2017 Victorian Allied Health Research Conference

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By Helen Carter
Journalist

 

An iPad app developed in Melbourne is helping optometry students improve and refine their clinical techniques for specific examinations they perform.

The Optometry and Vision Sciences Objective Structured Clinical Examination or OptomOSCE app gives third- and final-year students rich and timely feedback in four clinical examination techniques: tonometry, gonioscopy, binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy and fundus lens examination.

University of Melbourne Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences lecturer Dr Kwang Cham said they developed an app which gives feedback to students about their assessment during clinical examinations.

‘It highlights areas of strengths and weaknesses, and  is really specific about what they did and how they did it, what their technique was like, the way they hold the lens and specific feedback on how they can improve their technique,’ Dr Cham said.

‘We started it last year and a recent survey of students indicates it has gone really well. The students love it because they get feedback within 24 hours of doing a clinical examination, and also because the written feedback can be retained for future reference.

‘Sometimes verbal feedback may be misinterpreted or students may hard it find to retain verbal information.’

Dr Cham said examiners also loved it because it made the feedback process easier and information was recorded.

‘I haven’t seen any similar apps in optometry schools and it’s definitely the only one of its type in Australia,’ he said. ‘We would be happy to share it with other optometry schools.’

The physiotherapy department at the university has a similar app, and the nursing department wants to develop one based on the optometry and physiotherapy apps, as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration.

Dr Cham is a lecturer who is primarily involved in preclinical teaching in the early years of student training.

Grants

As a teaching specialist, he has received several University Learning and Teaching Initiative Grants to look at using technology and simulation to enhance formative and summative assessment in the curriculum.

In 2015, Dr Cham and his colleague Anthea Cochrane from the optometry department received one of the grants to customise an app developed by the university’s engineering department, to provide feedback to first- and second-year optometry students during seminar presentations.

They then developed the app for OSCE assessments (OptomOSCE) and, building on staff and students’ positive comments about the app, Dr Cham collaborated with university colleagues from nursing and physiotherapy departments, and received faculty seed funding to further develop the app in December 2016 to assist the nursing department.

Dr Cham and Ms Cochrane presented on 31 March a poster on the original app developed in 2015, at the Victorian Allied Health Research Conference in Melbourne. They received an ePoster Award for Best Innovation at the conference.

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