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J Adv Med Educ Prof. 2018 Apr;6(2):51-57.

Online formative assessments: exploring their educational value.

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Department of obstetrics and Gyanecology, International Medical University, Jalan Rasah, Seremban, 70200, Malaysia.



Online formative assessments (OFA's) have been increasingly recognised in medical education as resources that promote self-directed learning. Formative assessments are used to support the self-directed learning of students. Online formative assessments have been identified to be less time consuming with automated feedback. This pilot study aimed to determine whether participation and performance in online formative assessments (OFA's) had measurable effects on learning and evaluate the students' experience of using the OFA's in the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


This is a cross-sectional study conducted among fourth year medical students (n=92) during their seven week postings in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Five sets of online formative assessments in the format of one best answers (OBA), Objective structured practical examination (OSPE) and Short answer question (SAQ) with feedback were delivered over five weeks through the online portal. The mean scores of the end of posting summative exam (EOP) of those who participated in the assessments (OFA users) and of those who did not (non-OFA users) were compared, using Students t test. The frequency of tool usage was analysed and satisfaction surveys were utilized at the end of the course by survey questionnaire using the five point Likert scale.


The mean scores of the students in end of posting summative examination marks for students who had participated in the online formative assessment (OFA users) and for those who had not (non OFA users) showed no significant difference in all the three components OBA, SAQ and OSPE (p=0.902, 0.633, 0.248). Majority of the students perceived that OFAs fulfilled the stated aims and objectives and so they would persuade their peers to participate in the OFAs.


Online formative assessments are perceived as tools that promote self-directed learning, improved knowledge and tailor learning for individual learning needs and style.


Education; Self-directed learning ; Assessments


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