Competence Assessment for Spinal Anesthesia: A transfer of the competence based knowledge space theory from the education sector to the medical domain

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This project will provide a valid and reliable competence assessment procedure (CAP) for one medical procedural skill – spinal anesthesia.

Spinal anesthesia is one of the most common types of regional anesthesia to facilitate abdominal or lower limb surgery. Traditional training of the spinal anesthesia requires supervised practice with hospital patients, which may jeopardize patient’s safety. Worldwide, training in medical technical skills is undergoing rapid changes. In Europe, medical trainees will have much less exposure to “hands on” training, especially in procedural skills. Computer-based technology (i.e. simulation, web-based learning and virtual reality) has been introduced to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of learning and teaching of procedural and other skills.

Many European countries try to introduce competence-based training into medical education. This effort is restricted due to an absence of a universally-accepted and valid means of assessing competence in procedural skills. The challenges in developing valid and reliable CAPs in medical training lie in defining each competence as well as taking account of many factors that influence learning and performance. Such determinants include cognitive, motor, communication, and human (e.g. fatigue, anxiety, fear, etc.) factors. In other domains, Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory (CbKST) has been successfully applied to enhance learning, assess competence and facilitate personalized learning. The objective of this project is to transfer this innovative approach to the medical domain in order to develop a valid, reliable and practical CAP for spinal anesthesia.

Combining expertise of (i) medical training in virtual environment; and (ii) personalized competence assessment in technology enhanced learning environments, the collaborative project have jointed five partners from four European countries. To achieve the objective of the project, the partnership will comprehensively describe the competences, generate algorithms necessary to assess individual performance, implement the CAP in a user-friendly, web-based format and test it in simulated and real clinical settings for construct validity and reliability.


Graz Partner: Department of Psychology, University of Graz, Austria/Europe

Duration: 01.11.2007 – 31.10.2009 (24 months)

Funding: Supported by the Life-Long-Learning programme (LLP-LdV) of the European Commission. Grant No.: LLP/Ldv/TOI/2007/IRL-513

  • Total Budget: € 325,003.00
  • Total Funding: € 243,752.00
  • CSS Budget: € 55,200.00