About Associate Professor Deborah O’Mara

Research interests include medical education selection, assessment and evaluation. The potential of Situational Judgement Tests for assessing non-science and personal requirements for successful completion of the medical program and as an indicator of performance as a doctor is of particular interest.

Main field of research expertise is methodological in terms of research design and quantitative methods, including a wide range of multivariate statistical technique. Also have expertise in qualitative research particularly with respect to Delphi studies and content analysis.

Main research highlights include pilot studies of Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) in 2016 and 2019 for the Sydney MD and DMD, methodological research on SJTs including the optimum panel size for establishing a scoring key and the impact of removing a neutral rating category and the impact on the diversity of the interview pool. In addition, I have successfully used cluster analysis to classify students in the medical program using the Medical Schools Outcome Database which demonstrates the suitability of a targeted approach to medical education. I have successfully led a national standard setting research project which demonstrated the suitability of the Cohen method over Angoff and have designed a modified Cohen method for use in the Sydney Medical Program. I have been CI of two grants; one for the MSOD and one University of Sydney Educational Innovation Grant for assessment.

As Head of Assessment and Evaluation in the Sydney Medical Program we conduct a range of action orientated research to improve the program, including new assessment types, monitoring performance over time and more recently using factor analysis and cluster analysis to identify response patterns for student surveys. I conduct a number of studies in collaboration with other colleagues at the SMP eg in the Community Discipline and the Children's Hospital Westmead and I am the Chief Investigator for Ethics which covers collaborative research in national assessment projects such as the Australian Medical Schools Assessment Collaboration for standard setting and for the Prescribing Safety Assessment Project.

Selected publications

• Accepted for publication by Medical Education September 2019; MED-2019-0719.R2. Paul A. Tiffin, Lewis W. Paton, Deborah O'Mara, Carolyn MacCann, Jonas Lang and Filip Lievens. The cross-cutting edge: situational judgments tests for selection: traditional versus construct-driven approaches. Article ID: MEDU14011 Article DOI: 10.1111/medu.14011 Internal Article ID: 16590134.

• Caldwell, P., Scott, K., Kerr, M., O'Mara, D. (2018). A workshop to promote interprofessional care. The Clinical Teacher, 15(5), 419424.

• WARD, H., CHIAVAROLI, N., FRASER, J., MANSFIELD, K., STARMER, D., SURMON, L., VEYSEY, M. & O'MARA, D. 2018. Standard setting in Australian medical schools. BMC Medical Education, 18, 80.

• RYAN, A., O'MARA, D. SIDDIQUI, Z., WARD, H. AND FRASER, J 2016. Benchmarking in Australia using the International Foundations of Medicine Clinical Science Examination. Medical Journal of Australia, 204, 345.

• O'Mara, D., Canny, B., Rothnie, I., Wilson, I., Barnard, J., Davies, L. (2015). The Australian Medical Schools Assessment Collaboration: benchmarking the preclinical performance of medical students. Medical Journal of Australia, 202(2), 9599.

• O'Mara, D., Quinnell, R., Rothnie, I., Davies, L., Pye, M. (2014). ExamBank: a Pedagogic and Administrative System to Provide Effective Student Feedback and Stable Assessment Across Disciplines. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 22(3), 6273.

• Nagaratnam, N., Nagaratnam, K., O'Mara, D. (2014). Intersecting pentagon copying and clock drawing test in mild and moderate Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Clinical Gerontology and Geriatrics, 5(2), 4752.

• Burgess, A., Wright, C., Qasabian, R., O'Mara, D., Mellis, C. (2014). Surgical teaching program for our senior medical students: room for improvement. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 5, 369375.__

• Tiller, D., O'Mara, D., Rothnie, I., Dunn, S., Lee, L. & Roberts, C. 2013. Internet‐based multiple mini‐interviews for candidate selection for graduate entry programmes. Medical education, 47, 801-810.


• O'Mara, Deborah A (1981) The process of reading mathematics, Journal of Reading Vol 25, 1, 22-30. (Re-printed in several publications).