Experience with the objective structured examination as a tool for students' assessment in the Department of Community Medicine and Primary Health Care in a university [corrected] in Western Saudi Arabia.Saudi Med J. 2002 Feb; 23(2):151-5.SM
The objectives of this study were to 1. assess the knowledge and attitude of the 5th year female medical students towards the objective structured examination in general and in Community Medicine in particular prior to the exam, 2. Detect any change in students' knowledge and attitude after passing the exam, 3. Identify the students' evaluation for future objective structured examination in Community Medicine and Primary Health Care and 4. Compare the students' performance in the objective structured examination in Community Medicine and Primary Health Care to the results of multiple choice questions evaluation in the department.
There were 2 data sets, the first was collected by self-administered pre and post-objective structured examination questionnaires from all female medical students in the 5th year during the academic year 1996-1997 and the 2nd was copied from the students' results for objective structured examination and multiple choice questions in the department of Community Medicine and Primary Health Care during same academic year.
All the 34 5th year female medical students were enrolled in the study. Most of them reported that they did not receive enough information prior to the objective structured examination and most of their knowledge came from side chats with friends or staff members which was confirmed by their weak knowledge and negative attitude towards the objective structured examination prior to the exam. After setting the objective structured examination, students' knowledge and attitude towards objective structured examination markedly improved and the majority displayed its advantage as an assessment tool and were convinced of its suitability for medical practice in general and community medicine in particular. Most students believed that objective structured examination in Community Medicine and Primary Health Care met their expectations and recommended it for the coming years. Also, students stated the negative and positive aspects that should be considered for future assessments. Moreover, the multiple choice questions were nearly similar and there was a significant correlation between both scores.
The 5th year female medical students did not receive enough information and training on the objective structured examination which influenced their attitude prior to the exam. However, most of them showed a positive attitude after the experience and their marks in the objective structured examination were comparable to their marks in the multiple choice questions. The objective structured examination is a popular method of assessment in medical practice worldwide. The decision to discontinue its use after only one year did not allow space of time for evaluation of its appropriateness as an assessment tool. More research is recommended to study the main causes that lead to disregarding this type of medical assessment in the College of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University.