Use of Web-based formative assessment to support student learning in a metabolism/nutrition unit
Author(s)C. Henly, Debra
KeywordsDentistry not elsewhere classified
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AbstractIn 2002, an integrated basic science course was introduced into the Bachelor of Dental Sciences programme at the University of Queensland, Australia. Learning activities for the Metabolism and Nutrition unit within this integrated course included lectures, problem-based learning tutorials, computer-based self-directed learning exercises and practicals. To support student learning and assist students to develop the skills necessary to become lifelong learners, an extensive bank of formative assessment questions was set up using the commercially available package, WebCTQuestions included short-answer, multiple-choice and extended matching questions. As significant staff time was involved in setting up the question database, the extent to which students used the formative assessment and their perceptions of its usefulness to their learning were evaluated to determine whether formative assessment should be extended to other units within the course. More than 90% of the class completed formative assessment tasks associated with learning activities scheduled in the first two weeks of the block, but this declined to less than 50% by the fourth and final week of the block. Patterns of usage of the formative assessment were also compared in students who scored in the top 10% for all assessment for the semester with those who scored in the lowest 10%. High-performing students accessed the Web-based formative assessment about twice as often as those who scored in the lowest band. However, marks for the formative assessment tests did not differ significantly between the two groups. In a questionnaire that was administered at the completion of the block, students rated the formative assessment highly, with 80% regarding it as being helpful for their learning. In conclusion, although substantial staff time was required to set up the question database, this appeared to be justified by the positive responses of the students.
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