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Acad Med. 2000 Jul;75(7):737-41.

The influence of task formats on the accuracy of medical students' self-assessments.

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Department of Medical Education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0201, USA.



Accurate self-assessment is an essential skill for the self-directed learning activities and appropriate patient referral decisions of practicing physicians. However, many questions about the characteristics of self-assessment remain unanswered. One is whether self-assessment is a generalizable skill or dependent on the characteristics of the task. This study examines the self-assessment skills of medical students across two task formats: performance-based and cognitive-based.


In 1997 and 1998, fourth-year medical students at the University of Michigan assessed their own performances on ten stations of a clinical examination. The examination used two formats: performance tasks (the examination or history taking of standardized patients) and cognitive tasks (interpreting vignettes or test results and then answering paper-and-pencil questions). Three measures of self-assessment accuracy were used: a bias index (average difference between the students' estimates of their performances and their actual scores), a deviation index (average absolute difference between estimate and actual score), and an actual score-estimate-of-performance correlation (the correlation between the estimate and actual scores).


The student bias and deviation indices were similar on the cognitive and the performance tasks. The correlations also indicated similarity between the two types of tasks.


The results indicate that the format of the task does not influence students' abilities to self-assess their performances, and that students' self-assessment abilities are consistent over a range of skills and tasks. The authors also emphasize the importance of sampling tasks while conducting self-assessment research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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