On being examined: do students and faculty agree?
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Students measure out their lives, not with coffee spoons, but with grades on examinations. But what exams mean and whether or not they are a bane or a boon is moot. Senior undergraduates (A. Perrella, J. Koenig, and H. Kwon) designed and administered a 15-item survey that explored the contrasting perceptions of both students (n = 526) and faculty members (n = 33) in a 4-yr undergraduate health sciences program. A series of statements gauged the level of agreement on a 10-point scale. Students and faculty members agreed on the value of assessing student learning with a variety of methods, finding new information to solve problems, assessing conceptual understanding and logical reasoning, having assessments with no single correct answer, and having comments on exams. Clear differences emerged between students and faculty members on specific matters: rubrics, student choice of exam format, assessing creativity, and transfer of learning to novel situations. A followup questionnaire allowed participants to clarify their interpretation of select statements, with responses from 71 students and 17 faculty members. All parties strongly agreed that exams should provide a good learning experience that would help them prepare for the future (students: 8.64 ± 1.71 and faculty members: 8.03 ± 2.34).
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