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Am J Surg. 2016 Jan;211(1):274-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2015.03.035. Epub 2015 Jul 23.

The use of an essay examination in evaluating medical students during the surgical clerkship.

Author information

1
Department of General Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.
2
Department of General Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. Electronic address: jonathan_a_myers@rush.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Third-year medical students are graded according to subjective performance evaluations and standardized tests written by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Many "poor" standardized test takers believe the heavily weighted NBME does not evaluate their true fund of knowledge and would prefer a more open-ended forum to display their individualized learning experiences. Our study examined the use of an essay examination as part of the surgical clerkship evaluation.

METHODS:

We retrospectively examined the final surgical clerkship grades of 781 consecutive medical students enrolled in a large urban academic medical center from 2005 to 2011. We examined final grades with and without the inclusion of the essay examination for all students using a paired t test and then sought any relationship between the essay and NBME using Pearson correlations.

RESULTS:

Final average with and without the essay examination was 72.2% vs 71.3% (P < .001), with the essay examination increasing average scores by .4, 1.8, and 2.5 for those receiving high pass, pass, and fail, respectively. The essay decreased the average score for those earning an honors by .4. Essay scores were found to overall positively correlate with the NBME (r = .32, P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS:

The inclusion of an essay examination as part of the third-year surgical core clerkship final did increase the final grade a modest degree, especially for those with lower scores who may identify themselves as "poor" standardized test takers. A more open-ended forum may allow these students an opportunity to overcome this deficiency and reveal their true fund of surgical knowledge.

KEYWORDS:

Assessment; Medical student; Objective examination; Subjective examination; Surgical education

PMID:
26299578
DOI:
10.1016/j.amjsurg.2015.03.035
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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