Qpercom – 2008 to 2018: 10 years of Paperless Assessment
Case Study from the Winner of the Best Use of Summative Assessment at the 2019 e-Assessment Awards
Qpercom was established in 2008 as a spin-out company of the School of Medicine at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
At the time, Dr Thomas Kropmans and David Cunningham were working within the medical school on a project to digitally measure the performance of athletes. On development of a prototype, it became apparent their solution could be applied to the measurement and assessment of clinical skills of medical and nursing students in the school in exams called OSCEs, objective structured clinical examinations.
These practical assessments are extremely time consuming and expensive to organise and run. In addition, they generate thousands of paper assessment forms requiring hours of correction. Correction alone is subject to many types of error, so exam integrity was also difficult to maintain. Creating a digital version of this assessment solved each of these issues for the school from implementation. And so, Qpercom was launched globally to advance Quality, Performance and Competency measurement. Ten years later the medical school has 10 years of retrospective data for results analysis and quality improvement.
From Galway to Singapore
With a working digital solution and a small team in Galway, Qpercom looked to health science schools in Europe and beyond. The practicality and ease of use of the system was instantly recognised and client partnerships grew with top ranking institutions including the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Dundee University in Scotland. Following a major tender in 2013, Qpercom won a contract with the National University of Singapore, the highest ranking university in Asia Pacific. In 2017, Qpercom won another major tender for a national body in the UK to be the sole provider for their nationwide values-based digital recruitment. With a growing client base of 25, universities were recognising the need to switch to digital. There is no room for error in clinical assessment. Qpercom’s solutions are the measurement tools that help to evaluate whether the student is ready for real world practice. In clinical practice, as in aviation, you may only get one opportunity to make a critical decision. Creating an e-assessment solution has allowed us to increase quality standards for this critical outcome.
2019 and Beyond
Today, Qpercom offers a portfolio of assessment solutions for clinical assessment and admission interviews to a global client base. Another major tender win in 2019 resulted in Qpercom being announced as the national software provider to higher education institutions in Norway. Automation of any paper-based assessment creates multiple benefits. However, prolonging the switch to digital and technology resistance can take the focus off these long term benefits. Higher quality standards and less errors are immediate benefits. In one study, the systems decreased administrative workload and costs by more than 70%.
The real opportunities of digital assessment emerge later, when assessors get back time previously lost on paper assessment, and derive learnings from data analysis and assessment psychometrics. These opportunities may simply not have existed before due to the time and costs involved in analysing data. This is where the newest addition to the portfolio, Qpercom Analyse, presents real value to assessors. Measurement error needs to be taken into account in the case of pass/fail decisions in medicine and health sciences, as in any other science. Analyse presents a real opportunity to advance assessment for educators and students. With Analyse, complex psychometrics can be performed online on the assessment data using R programming language and a variety of statistical tools such as, Borderline Regression Analysis and Standard Error of Measurement. This, in our opinion, is the future of assessment and the real value of digital assessment.