601 Confidence Based Assessments: When Guessing Could Kill Someone

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Thursday, October 1

Learners often assume they have achieved a level of competency if they have been working in their field for some time. This is especially true of professions where the stakes are high: think doctors, ship captains, and pilots. They might assume that because they have been doing something for a long time that it MUST be right. What they don't realize is that in many situations they can't consciously evaluate what they truly know. Or worse, DON'T know. In effect, they are making guesses—some of which can lead to disastrous results.

Learners need to be able to critically evaluate their competency consciously by assessing their own confidence in any knowledge they apply. This is especially true when guessing may endanger a life. We developed a confidence-based assessment tool for Family Physicians enrolled in an immersive 12-week program in a busy emergency department in downtown Toronto. The tool helped the physicians to identify where and how often they might be unconsciously and even over-confidently applying incorrect knowledge and practice. A simple visual metric at the end of each assessment clearly showed the physicians just how often their confident answers were in fact wrong. The confidence-based assessments were pivotal to helping the physicians overcome long-held biases and beliefs, which ultimately helped them to improve practice, identify competency "danger zones", and increase their overall self-efficacy.

Cindy Plunkett

Director, Learning Design & Development


With over 20 years' experience in instructional design, development, and project management Cindy Plunkett is the Canadian eLearning Conference Executive Director, part-time professor in the faculty of education at Ontario Tech University, and co-creator of the Educational Technology for Health Practitioner Education course at the University of Toronto's department of Family and Community Medicine. Cindy has worked with three of the largest academic teaching hospitals in Canada on high profile projects like the SEME program, and has experience speaking and facilitating both nationally and internationally.

Sarah Dewar

Educational Technology Specialist

Michael Garron Hospital

Sarah Dewar is a seasoned instructional designer and developer. She has over 20 years of experience in the realm of adult learning, complemented by 15 years of experience creating innovative eLearning solutions for healthcare professionals. Sarah is currently developing a virtual reality training solution to orient healthcare workers to a new state-of-the-art healthcare centre. She also creates custom animation to engage learners. Sarah shares her knowledge internationally and volunteers her expertise to not-for-profit organizations.

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