Journal of Surgical Simulation 2015; 2: 1 - 5

Published: 09 February 2015


Original article

Evaluating trainee experience of surgical skills teaching

Simon Fleming, Elizabeth Winson, Kurdo Amin and Bijendra P. Patel
Corresponding author: Elizabeth Winston, Launceston General Hospital, Launceston, TAS 7250, Australia. Email:


Introduction: Operating theatres are a crucial learning environment for trainee surgeons developing surgical skills. There is no structured framework for teaching during surgery or its evaluation. Objective assessment of the learning experience can assess quality and highlight areas for improvement, maximizing benefit. 

Methods: A 5-point Likert rating scale was devised to assess surgical teaching experience. Positive and negative teaching attributes were established with a literature review and interviews of trainees and teachers. Sixty surgical trainees at a major London teaching hospital, operating under consultant supervision, evaluated the supervisor teaching using the tool. Significance of test results from the assessment tool was analysed using repeated measures analysis of variance for Likert scoring. A P value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: There was consensus between trainees on the relevance of tool themes, with most ranked important or absolutely essential and no difference across grades (P ≥ 0.05). There was no difference in the overall supervisor scores between trainees with different levels of experience (P ≥ 0.05) or between procedures with different levels of complexity (P ≥ 0.05). Junior supervisors scored more highly overall than senior supervisors (P = 0.024).

Discussion: The study demonstrated that the assessment tool is feasible, practical and applicable, with face and content validity. Discrimination between supervisors with different levels of experience shows discriminative validity. The tool facilitates objective assessment of the teaching experience in surgery. We hope this will aid improvements in teaching quality, an area for further study.


Simulation; surgical training; evaluation