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Use of a Formal Assessment Instrument for Evaluation of Veterinary Student Surgical Skills


Corresponding Author

Lauren V. Schnabel, DVM, Diplomate ACVS,

VMC C3-105, College of Veterinary Medicine,

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853




To (1) evaluate the design and use of a global rating scale assessment instrument in veterinary medical education and; (2) examine the effectiveness of 2 surgical techniques courses for improving the surgical skills of veterinary students.

Study Design

Instrument development; observational; survey-based.

Sample Population

Students (n = 16) registered for 2 elective surgical techniques courses were enrolled on a volunteer basis.


A 5-point global rating scale instrument was designed for the evaluation of 12 basic surgical skills by faculty evaluators and used to obtain student start and end scores during the courses. Upon conclusion of the courses, students completed a survey from which their opinions on their improvement as well as their desire for feedback were obtained.


All authors agreed the instrument was easy to use. As groups, 3rd year students, 4th year students, and all students combined had significantly higher total skill scores at the end of the courses compared to the start of the courses. Individually, 10 students (63%) had significant improvement in surgical skills as a result of their participation in the courses: 4 (100%) 3rd year and 6 (50%) 4th year students. Student survey responses revealed a strong desire for feedback as well as support of formal assessment methods. Only weak agreement was found between student opinions on their improvement and the authors' assessment scores.


Assessment instruments are useful for (1) student evaluation and (2) for providing students with feedback on their surgical skills.