Since its inception in 2000-2001, providing quality medical education has been a prime interest of Qassim University College of Medicine. The college has recently introduced progress testing as a tool for further enhancing and monitoring the educational process.
Progress testing is a comprehensive knowledge longitudinal testing approach which assesses the end of curriculum objectives of undergraduate medical training across all medical disciplines. It has been used in medical education for over 30 years, both in McMaster University in Canada and Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Many of the Western Universities are adopting progress testing.
Concepts and Rational:
Progress testing (PT) was introduced to maintain the educational philosophy of PBL; including clinical reasoning, problem solving, … The test samples all the end objectives of the undergraduate curriculum. It is impossible for the students to prepare for one particular test, thus short-term learning strategies like cramming and rote memorization are ineffective, while deep strategies like focusing on functional long-term knowledge and self-directed learning are reinforced.
Although Progress testing commenced in PBL schools, its use is neither restricted to PBL program nor to a single institution. PT can be used in any medical curriculum regardless of the instructional format used. Literature indicates that Medical students from a progress test university show a more consistent progress then students from a non progress test university.
With progress testing, the entire student population of a medical school sits for the same test at the same time. There is no direct connection between the test and the curricular stage or any specific course unit. Freshmen-year students are not able to answer as many questions as the second year students, who are not able to answer as many as the third year students and so on. This allows follow up of yearly progression towards the program outcomes.
An important feature of progress testing is repetition; knowledge about all topics –also learned in the past- is continuously being re-evaluated. This helps monitoring the individual learning paths of students.
Advantages of PT:
- It focuses on functional knowledge needed for medical graduates.
- It is a rich source of information for feedback to students, faculty, instructors and curriculum committees.
- PT can be used in formative and part of summative assessment.
- Early detection of high and low achievers.
- Repeat examinations (like re-sit and remedial) are no longer necessary.
- Organizational insensitivity to curriculum change (because PT focuses on end of curriculum objectives rather than block/course objectives)
- PT provides a strong research potential.