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Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2015 Aug;5(Suppl 1):S66-70. doi: 10.4103/2229-516X.162282.

Formative assessment in postgraduate medical education - Perceptions of students and teachers.

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Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College and Hospital, Tanda, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India.
Department of Orthopedics, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College and Hospital, Tanda, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India.



One of the most important factors of medical education that can revolutionize the learning process in postgraduate students (PGs) is assessment for learning by means of formative assessment (FA). FA is directed at steering and fostering learning of the students by providing feedback to the learner. However, though theoretically well suited to postgraduate training, evidence are emerging that engaging stakeholders in FA in daily clinical practice is quite complex.


To explore perceptions of PGs and teachers (Ts) about factors that determines active engagement in FA.


It was a descriptive qualitative study involving focus group discussions (FGDs) with PGs and Ts from Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopedics. FGDs data were processed through points/remarks, data reduction, data display, coding followed by theme generation for content analysis.


Four higher order themes emerged: Harsh reality of present summative assessment structure, individual perspectives on feedback, supportiveness of the learning environment, and the credibility of feedback and/or feedback giver.


Engaging in FA with a genuine impact on learning is complex and quite a challenge to both students and Ts. Increased acceptability along with the effective implementation of FA structure, individual perspectives on feedback, a supportive learning environment and credibility of feedback are all important in this process. Every one of these should be taken into account when the utility of FA in postgraduate medical training is evaluated.


Focus group discussion; formative assessment; students; summative assessment; teachers

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