Assessing medical students: hit or miss
Medical schools need to ensure assessments are fair
- By: David M Kaufman
The dean of a large medical school receives a threaten. ing note. It says, “Ease up on the tough grading, or else!” He thinks to himself, “My god, these students are monsters.” Upon reading further, however, he sees that the note is signed by the faculty.
This anecdote illustrates the emotion that surrounds the area of student assessment, both for students and faculty. It can be a messy business, yet much is riding on the outcome. Consider the following three fictional cases in the box below.
Four faculty members reviewed students' final grades from a year two multiple choice question (MCQ) course examination. Using 60% as the “pass” score, almost 25% of the class had scored below this level. Two members wanted to fail these students and have them resit the examination. The other two wanted to lower the “pass” score to 55%, thus reducing the failure rate to 10%.