AN INNOVATIVE FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT STRATEGY IN THE BIOMEDICAL LABORATORY THAT PROBES KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING AND APPLICATION AS WELL AS HIGHER ORDER THINKING SKILLS
Queensland University of Technology (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:University teaching hospitals around the world employ in one form or another the “Medical Rounds” teaching model whereby medical registrars or their equivalent conduct patient bedside question and answer sessions with medical students. This tried and tested authentic-learning approach promotes real-world learning and student engagement. We have adapted this approach in our teaching of biomedical microbiology to advanced level, final year biomedical and medical laboratory science undergraduate students. Just prior to end-of-semester summative assessments (theory and laboratory) students undergo formative assessment via a face-to-face, interactive Question and Answer (Q&A) session in the biomedical microbiology laboratory. Eight Q&A stations are set-up around a laboratory bench. Students must be fully prepared for this formative assessment. Other than those materials set-up by us at each Q&A station, textbooks, student notes or resources are not permitted. Five students as a group commence their rounds (15-20 min per station). Q&A station number one features an authentic patient case scenario which each student must problem-solve individually and as a group. One of the teaching staff role-plays a patient suffering an infectious illness, while another colleague facilitates the probing Q&A. Each student in the group, and the group as a whole, is asked a series of questions that challenge their knowledge, understanding and application (K-U-A). Each student is able to gauge strengths and weaknesses in their K-U-A by the quality of the answers they provide as they progress from station-to-station. This formative assessment strategy also allows for immediate feedback from the teaching team on-the-spot in a supportive context since no marks are associated with the activity. Moreover, the strategy has the added advantages of assessing a student’s oral communication skills, encourages their reflective practice and focuses on peer group interactions in a probing (“pressurised”) context. By also providing hands-on laboratory tests, experimental materials and test results at most (6/8) of the Q&A stations, the strategy also probes a student’s ability to: (i) make experimental observations and interpretations, (ii) critically analyse data and (iii) use higher order thinking (Critical thinking-Complex reasoning) skills in a problem-solving context. At the final Q&A station, the student group observes one of the teaching team performing various technical procedures that are replete with deliberate errors and omissions. Each student must record such mistakes, discuss as a group and then report collectively. This strategy aligns with active learning via student-centered corrective feedback; a powerful learning tool. Preliminary hardcopy targeted evaluations and student feedback before and after summative assessments provide evidence that this innovative formative assessment strategy supports active learning and assists students to prepare for summative assessments as well as transition to the workplace.
Keywords: Innovative formative assessment strategies, Question and Answer, Knowledge Understanding and Application, Higher order thinking.