Assessing the application of knowledge in clinical problem-solving: The structured professional reasoning exercise

M. P. Escudier*, M. J. Woolford, J. A. Tricio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Clinical reasoning is a fundamental and core clinical competence of healthcare professionals. The study aimed to investigate the utility of the Structured Professional Reasoning Exercise (SPRE), a new competence assessment method designed to measure dental students’ clinical reasoning in simulated scenarios, covering the clinical areas of Oral Disease, Primary Dental Care and Restorative Dentistry, Child Dental Health and Dental Practice and Clinical Governance. Materials and Methods: A total of 313 year-5 students sat for the assessment. Students spent 45 minutes assimilating the scenarios, before rotating through four pairs of 39 trained examiners who each independently assessed a single scenario over a ten-minute period, using a structured marking sheet. After the assessment, all students and examiners were invited to complete an anonymous perception questionnaire of the exercise. These questionnaires and the examination scores were statistically analysed. Results and Discussion: Oral Disease showed the lowest scores; Dental Practice and Governance the highest. The overall Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) was 0.770, whilst examiner training helped to increase the ICC from 0.716 in 2013 to 0.835 in 2014. Exploratory factor analysis revealed one major factor with an eigenvalue of 2.75 (68.8% of total variance). The Generalizability coefficient was consistent at 0.806. A total of 295 students and 32 examiners completed the perception questionnaire. Students’ lowest examination perceptions were an “Unpleasant” and “Unenjoyable” experience, whilst the highest were “Interesting”, “Valuable” and “Important”. The majority of students and examiners reported the assessment as acceptable, fair and valid. Conclusion: The SPRE offers a reliable, valid and acceptable assessment method, provided it comprises at least four scenarios with two independently marking and trained assessors. 3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e269-e277
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • clinical reasoning
  • simulation
  • structured assessment


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