Comparing examination performance across three online assessment formats in australian medical students

Monique Trigg., John James Barnard., Peter Devitt and Hannah Pham

The aim of this study was to compare the performance across three assessment formats in online test administration; Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs), Short Answer Questions (SAQs) and Option Probability Theory questions (OPTs) on a sample of 276 Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) students at the University of Adelaide, in order to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of these formats. Students were divided into groups according to their year of study (Fourth or Fifth Year) and separated in sessions to counterbalance the modes of administration. All students completed parallel tests in each mode. Results showed that students performed best in the MCQ and worst in the OPT, regardless of the year of study. The OPT scores purport to provide information about individuals’ guessing which cannot be captured through MCQs and hence through yielding a more precise estimate of cognitive ability, may be effectively utilised as a diagnostic testing tool.

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