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Type: Journal article
Title: Limitations of student-driven formative assessment in a clinical clerkship. A randomised controlled trial
Author: Palmer, E.
Devitt, P.
Citation: BMC Medical Education, 2008; 8(29):1-7
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
Issue Date: 2008
ISSN: 1472-6920
Statement of
Edward J Palmer and Peter G Devitt
Abstract: Background Teachers strive to motivate their students to be self-directed learners. One of the methods used is to provide online formative assessment material. The concept of formative assessment and use of these processes is heavily promoted, despite limited evidence as to their efficacy.Methods Fourth year medical students, in their first year of clinical work were divided into four groups. In addition to the usual clinical material, three of the groups were provided with some form of supplementary learning material. For two groups, this was provided as online formative assessment. The amount of time students spent on the supplementary material was measured, their opinion on learning methods was surveyed, and their performance in summative exams at the end of their surgical attachments was measured.Results The performance of students was independent of any educational intervention imposed by this study. Despite its ready availability and promotion, student use of the online formative tools was poor.Conclusion Formative learning is an ideal not necessarily embraced by students. If formative assessment is to work students need to be encouraged to participate, probably by implementing some form of summative assessment.
Keywords: Humans; Motivation; Education, Medical, Undergraduate; Clinical Clerkship; Teaching; Computer-Assisted Instruction; Consumer Satisfaction; South Australia; Female; Male; General Surgery
Rights: Copyright © 2008 Palmer and Devitt; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
RMID: 0020084564
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6920-8-29
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Appears in Collections:Surgery publications

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