Assessment for learning: A needs analysis study using formative assessment to evaluate the need for curriculum reform in basic sciences

Reem Rachel Abraham, Faith Alele, Ullas Kamath, Annamma Kurien, Kiranmai S. Rai, Indira Bairy, Mohandas K.G. Rao, Guruprasad Rao, Vasudha Devi, Yeshwant K. Rao, Tarun Sen Gupta, Bunmi S. Malau-Aduli

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A needs analysis study for curriculum reform in basic sciences was conducted at Melaka Manipal Medical College, India, by means of a formative assessment method, namely Basic Science Retention Examination (BSRE). Students participated in a BSRE, which comprised recall and clinical multiple-choice questions in six discipline areas. They also rated the clinical relevance of each question and provided responses to three open-text questions about the exam. Pass rates were determined; clinical relevance ratings and performance scores were compared between recall type and clinical questions to test students' level of clinical application of basic science knowledge. Text comments were thematically analyzed to identify recurring themes. Only one-third of students passed the BSRE (32.2%). Students performed better in recall questions compared with clinical questions in anatomy (51.0 vs. 40.2%), pathology (45.1 vs. 38.1%), pharmacology (41.8 vs. 31.7%), and biochemistry (43.5 vs. 26.9%). In physiology, students performed better in clinical questions compared with the recall type (56.2 vs. 45.8%). Students' response to BSRE was positive. The findings imply that transfer of basic science knowledge was poor, and that assessment methods should emphasize clinical application of basic science knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-486
Number of pages5
JournalAdvances in Physiology Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01-09-2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology

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