Formative Self-Assessments: Improve Understanding and Engagement

Aug 31, 2018 | Customer Solutions

Both “formative assessment” and “self-assessment” are important in learning, particularly in the health professions where students have to acquire massive amounts of information and knowledge and then apply it to solving clinical challenges.

“Formative assessment” and “self-assessment” are terms mentioned frequently by the many educators we speak with from the many graduate health professions we serve. Formative assessments are not assessments of a particular design; rather, they refer to the way assessments are used as part of the teaching and learning process. They are designed to help identify whether students are learning what’s presented to them and if they can apply or build upon prior learning and understanding. They help to answer the question, “Is the curriculum or method of instruction effective in meeting learning objectives?” Self-assessment, on the other hand, is the process of evaluating yourself to see what you understand or have learned from a particular educational activity, training process, or targeted study. Both forms of assessment are important in learning, particularly in the health professions where students have to acquire massive amounts of information and knowledge and then apply it to solving clinical challenges.

Self-assessment is recognized as a valued method for engaging the learner and improving understanding. Practicing physician assistants, for example, can earn Category I CME credits by completing structured self-assessment modules. Family physicians can conduct knowledge self-assessment (KSA) activities, among other things, to help fulfill their CME requirements. Recognizing the value of these activities is based on the premise that health practitioners, in order to remain effective and competent clinicians, must be lifelong learners.

Health professions programs are required to have a program of continuous assessment to ensure that their educational objectives are being met. Formative assessment can and should be part of the curriculum, one tool in a process of continual learning and improvement. Health professions students in particular learn that the capacity to self-assess is a requirement of their profession; it is critical for students to examine their own learning and levels of understanding. This helps students to identify their own skill gaps and where their knowledge or understanding can improve.

Exam Master has combined the value of both self-assessment and formative assessment into a new program designed to provide students with a structured way to assess their knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and improve their learning. Based on the same paradigm used by many healthcare professions for continuing education, Exam Master’s self-assessment platform is now available for student use for self-directed assessment, study, and review. Assessments can be selected by faculty and can be comprehensive in scope (such as a pre-board exam or a comprehensive basic science review) or targeted to specific subjects or topics (such as pharmacology, anatomy, or physiology). The program is designed to measure and encourage student progress by requiring both a pre-test for initial assessment and a post-test for measuring learning. Students and residents can even earn a certificate of completion by achieving a passing score, as determined by the program. The program is designed to be challenging, engaging, and for building learner confidence.

An example of how this program is structured is available here.

For more information, drop us a line. Please put “Self-Assessment” in the subject line and we’ll get right back to you.

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