Saturday 3 October 2015

What is a "tick box exercise?"

I often hear criticism of assessment processes as being "tick box exercises". One way to respond to such feedback is for assessors to replace the actual tick box with one or more boxes in which one must record a descriptive account, often to record reflection.

Is this an appropriate response to what critics actually mean by "tick box exercises?" What do they mean?

I suspect the phrase "tick box exercises" is actually often short hand for mandatory, time consuming data collection exercises of little or no value.

Therefore, replacing the tick box with space for a fuller, descriptive response in reality exacerbates the problem, resulting in an even more time consuming exercise; whilst reflection may be documented, it may be at the expense of a more meaningful, less constrained discussion between colleagues working together to improve each other's performance.

Take GP training for example. Experienced GP trainers report being able to predict within 2 weeks whether their trainee will complete their training successfully within the usual time frame. If there are concerns, space to record them in evidence can be helpful. However, if there are no concerns, perhaps all we need is a single tick box at the two week mark!

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