A model for selecting assessment methods for evaluating medical students in African medical schools

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Academic Medicine


Introduction of more effective and standardized assessment methods for testing students' performance in Africa's medical institutions has been hampered by severe financial and personnel shortages. Nevertheless, some African institutions have recognized the problem and are now revising their medical curricula, and, therefore, their assessment methods. These institutions, and those yet to come, need guidance on selecting assessment methods so as to adopt models that can be sustained locally. The authors provide a model for selecting assessment methods for testing medical students' performance in African medical institutions. The model systematically evaluates factors that influence implementation of an assessment method. Six commonly used methods (the essay examinations, short-answer questions, multiple-choice questions, patient-based clinical examination, problem-based oral examination [POE], and objective structured clinical examination) are evaluated by scoring and weighting against performance, cost, suitability, and safety factors. In the model, the highest score identifies the most appropriate method. Selection of an assessment method is illustrated using two institutional models, one depicting an ideal situation in which the objective structured clinical examination was preferred, and a second depicting the typical African scenario in which the essay and short-answer-question examinations were best. The POE method received the highest score and could be recommended as the most appropriate for Africa's medical institutions, but POE assessments require changing the medical curricula to a problem-based learning approach. The authors' model is easy to understand and promotes change in the medical curriculum and method of student assessment




Walubo, A., Burch, V., Parmar, P., Raidoo, D., Cassimjee, M., Onia, R., & Ofei, F. (2003). A model for selecting assessment methods for evaluating medical students in African medical schools. Academic Medicine, 78(9), 899-906