This section provides a brief summary of the key features of the SPEF-R©.

As the SPEF-R© is just one component of the total package the key functions of the other components are also highlighted.

The rest of this module and the modules that follow unwrap this information and provide you with details and suggestions so you know what to do at each stage of the practice placement.


Using the SPEF-R©

What is its purpose?

The SPEF-R© is designed to evaluate the performance of occupational therapy students completing block practice placements. It was developed to be graded pass/fail with an emphasis on providing students with feedback that is helpful, objective and specific.

For what length of practice placement is it used?

Because of its comprehensive nature, and the emphasis placed on sufficiency of observation to substantiate ratings and feedback, the SPEF-R© is most suitable for block practice placements of at least five weeks duration, which typically occur in the later year/s of occupational therapy curricular.

For practice placements of lesser duration, some universities have negotiated a license to use a shortened version, with key domains selected as appropriate to the practice objectives. If in doubt if this type of license is in place, check with the affiliated university.

When is it completed?

The SPEF-R© is formally completed and presented at halfway and again in the final week of practice placements. However, the learning objectives and corresponding items can be used during orientation, and in an ongoing way throughout the practice placement as a planning tool and to facilitate clear communication and feedback.

The Structure of the SPEF-R©

What does it cover?

The SPEF-R© addresses learning objectives within eight domains:

  • Professional Behaviour
  • Self Management Skills
  • Co-worker Communication
  • Communication Skills
  • Documentation
  • Information Gathering
  • Service Provision
  • Service Evaluation

How is the SPEF-R© organised?

For each learning objective an item bank is provided. The items within a bank describe knowledge, behaviours and/or skills that contribute to demonstrating the achievement of the associated learning objective. Items are further expanded and clarified by the accompanying examples. Practice educators "customise" examples to enhance the fit of the evaluation to the workplace.

Within this framework core items have been identified in each learning objective. The core items are considered essential components of occupational therapy practice and therefore the rating of these items has a significant bearing on the overall outcome.

Further details about each of these features are provided in Module Two and Module Three.

Are the same item banks used in all workplaces?

While some item banks are used in all workplaces, others vary in their focus and/or terminology. Consequently a choice of two broad streams (Direct Service Provision and Project Management / Consultancy) is provided in three of the domains i.e. Communication Skills, Information Gathering, Service Provision.

Are there the same numbers of items in each item bank?

Different item banks have different numbers of items. This is not a reflection on the relative importance of the associated learning objective. Instead it reflects the differing nature of the objectives and the key behaviours considered necessary to meet them.

Using the SPEF-R© to Provide Evaluation

How is feedback provided?

Feedback on student performance is provided by both

  • numerical ratings
  • qualitative information detailed in the feedback sections

Each item is rated on the following five point rating scale or as insufficient observation (I/O) or not applicable (N/A).

1. Performs Unacceptably
2. Performs Marginally
3. Performs Adequately
4. Performs Proficiently
5. Performs with Distinction

A rating of 3 is considered a passing grade.

The above rating scale descriptors are expanded upon in the ratings table and include key concepts relating to:

  • safety and appropriateness (physical, psychological, cultural)
  • the degree of assistance/prompting/monitoring required
  • the level /application of knowledge and skills

It is recommended that the full scale is kept in view when allocating ratings (see Page 9 of the User Manual). Whole ratings only can be awarded-there are no half marks.

More specific written feedback about student performance related to each relevant learning objective is detailed in the feedback/recommendation space provided. Here the practice educator might:

  • provide examples that support the ratings allocated
  • detail examples of desired behaviours
  • record overall comments about the learning objective

How is the final grade determined?

The minimum requirements for passing each learning objective are stipulated by specific scoring criteria (see Table 1, page 15 of the User Manual). Students must pass the relevant learning objective for each domain to achieve an overall pass. Practice educators also complete a summary statement regarding the student's overall performance.