This site is the home of the Australian Medical Assessment Collaboration (AMAC). The establishment of this collaboration was funded by a grant from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC Project SP10-1869) in late 2010. The initial AMAC project was undertaken collaboratively by the University of Queensland, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and Monash University.
With the completion of the original ALTC funded project in mid-2012, AMAC extended its collaborative partnership. From 2013 to 2014 the project involved 16 of the 19 medical schools in Australia and New Zealand collaborating with ACER. ‘AMAC-2’ was funded by a grant from the Commonwealth Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT Project ID12-2482).
The initial AMAC project was instigated as a means of developing tools and processes to help ‘prove’ and ‘improve’ the quality of medical education in Australia through the recognition of the need for quality comparison, sharing of expertise and acknowledgement of the need for high-quality assessment in Australian medical schools. These factors are seen by the project team as one of the important foundations in the development of high-quality and highly skilled future doctors.
Overall, AMAC has adopted a ‘structured bottom-up model’ to building common assessment items for the evaluation of learning outcomes across medical schools. The project has established that in order to be able to use the collaborative approach for serious quality improvement there are some requirements that need to be met. These include:
- a value proposition that engages schools and delivers useful outcomes and perspectives not otherwise available,
- a process that guarantees sufficient buy-in from the participating schools, which means that consensus needs to be reached about the quality and credibility of the collaboration and its outcomes,
- a process of internal assessment quality control that is replicable in the participating schools and that can easily be implemented and scaled for others,
- a strong overarching governance structure that coordinates the collaborative process, the quality control and the ownership of materials and data collected with the material (including for collaborative research),
- a clear understanding of the executive and financial power of such an overarching body, and
- a plan for development of expertise in assessment material production and ongoing professional development activities.
In total, across AMAC-1 and AMAC-2, the team has implemented assessments of AMAC items in 11 medical schools, across more than 20 different student cohorts, including more than 2000 medical students during their clinical years in both formative and summative settings. A total of 168 items have been developed that fit within the quality specifications developed by the collaboration, 120 of these having been comprehensively trialled, while the remaining items are yet to be used. All items are mapped to the AMAC Framework and ‘tagged’ to provide detail based on seven different item categorisations.
In 2014, the Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand began a benchmarking project which now acts as the main comparative assessment tool for these medical schools. The MDANZ project was closely informed by AMAC and by other collaborations within the Australian medical education community. More about the MDANZ project can be found at www.medicaldeans.org.au.