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OSPA Project

Objective Structured Professional Assessments

A collaboration between University College London, Southampton University

and Manchester University


Using the Website

This website has been set up to provide information about our cross-university collaborative project: Developing objective structured professional assessment and feedback protocols for professional training of practitioner psychologists. Below you will find a summary of the project and its aims and objectives. In addition, you will find information about:

Who we are: The Project Team

The way in which curriculum priorities for trainee educational psychologists working with 16-25 year olds developed during the first phase of the OSPA project: Defining Curriculum Content

Professional competence and fitness to practice - the curriculum for training EPs to work with 16-25 year olds: 16-25 Competency Framework

To find out more about OSPAs and how they operate: What is an OSPA?

Information and guidance for trainee educational psychologists: Guidance for Trainee EPs

To find out what it is like to take part in an OSPA, watch a video clip of one taking place: The OSPA Experience

Information and guidance for OSPA role players: OSPA Guide for Role Players

Documents related to the OSPA project: Project Documents

Key dates for activities within the OSPA project: Events

Project Summary

The Children and Families Bill will pass into law by 2014, extending statutory protections for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities until age 25. Consequently the core curriculum for training educational psychologists (EPs) will need to be developed beyond the current focus of work with early years and school-age children. This project proposes a collaboration between three postgraduate doctoral educational psychology training programmes with five distinct phases; developing this new element of the curriculum; defining relevant professional competencies; developing an objective structured professional assessment protocol; providing student feedback delivered by podcast; evaluation of outcomes.

This project aims to:

  1. Focus on developing an evidence-led, high quality curriculum and competency descriptors for working with the 16-25 population, along with novel assessment and feedback processes, with student learning and experience at the heart.
  2. Work collaboratively across Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), with university tutors and local authority placement supervisors to reshape approaches to assessment, adopting an innovative, structured and reliable approach that will enhance professional training, in the form of Objective Structured Professional Assessments (OSPAs).
  3. Provide audio feedback via podcasts to students on their performance in the OSPAs to assist them to self-assess and reflect on their learning through provision of detailed, individualized, high quality and comprehensible feedback.
  4. Promote academic integrity through clear integration of research, theory and practice and dissemination through publications and presentations.

The objectives are to:

  1. Engage employers in defining requisite professional competencies for working with young people aged 16-25 with learning difficulties and disabilities and mental health needs in the broad contexts in which they live, learn and work.
  2. Develop and adapt Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), an assessment method widely used in medical training to assess practice competence in trainee educational psychologists (to be called OSPAs).
  3. Develop a range of scenarios, delivered by actors, that will enable  key competencies to be demonstrated by students and assessed by training providers.
  4. Develop a protocol for assessors on structuring feedback (strengths and improvement suggestions) in relation to key competencies.
  5. Deliver audio feedback to students via podcasts, enabling them to reflect on their video recorded performance in the OSPA whilst contemplating the audio feedback.
  6. Gain data with regard to the reliability of assessments within controlled simulated scenarios that have high professional authenticity.
  7. Increase the employability of students and ensure that they are equipped and competent within the changing workplace.





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