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Assessors’ and trainees’ perceptions of workplace-based assessments in histopathology


Aim Workplace-based assessments (WBAs) are an integral part of specialist medical and dental training in the UK. Histopathology represents a very different training environment to the surgical specialities so it is important to know that the current WBAs are fit for purpose. A literature search revealed very little evidence regarding the perception of WBAs in histopathology. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the current perception of WBAs in histopathology by assessors and trainees.

Methods A questionnaire was sent to all histopathology assessors and trainees on the Royal College of Pathologists database. Data were analysed using basic descriptive statistics. Free text comments were analysed by thematic analysis.

Results The questionnaire was completed by 242/2175 assessors (response rate 11.1%) and 91/519 trainees (response rate 17.5%). There was no significantly different perception of WBAs between trainers and trainees (p>0.05). Key findings included respondents stating that they strongly disagreed or disagreed WBAs identify diagnostic competence (68% of trainees; 62% of assessors), identify trainees in difficulty (69% of trainees; 64% of assessors) or accurately reflect trainee progress (62% of trainees; 59% of assessors). Analysis of free text comments identified three main issues related to WBAs: their utilisation, purpose and design.

Conclusion There was an overall negative perception of WBAs, particularly their perceived regulatory nature. It appears that the current WBAs do not always meet the criteria of a useful test in that they are perceived as being applied variably, produce results with questionable validity and have little apparent educational value.

  • histopathology
  • oral pathology
  • general

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