The Learning of Medical Students


Assignments created to assess the learning of medical students are targeted at identifying whether the students demonstrate the expected behaviors, developed new abilities or values, acquired new knowledge with regards to the medical practice and were overall successful after completing an educational program.

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To assess the student learning at the general hospital site, Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is widely used. OSCEs are effective assessment tools that determine the proficiency of a student with regards to engagement with patients, communication with colleagues, as well as the exercising of sensitivity and empathy (General Medical Council, 2011). The success in performing clinical examinations and medical procedures can also be assessed with the help of OSCEs. The effectiveness of OSCEs is associated with objectivity since all students are assessed with the help of the same stations and assignments. The assignments are specific and structured in such a way that they apply to the theoretical and practical medical knowledge.

Another method of assessing students’ learning at the general hospital site included mini peer assessment tools (mini-PAT). This is a relatively new assessment method that implies the trainee’s self-assessment along with the collated ratings from the trainee’s peers (Abdulla, 2008). The effectiveness of such assessment method is associated with the students’ ability to compare the results of their self-assessments with the objective feedback given anonymously by their peers. Mini-PATs facilitate personal development, compliance with the established procedures, the accumulation of reliable information about students’ performance, as well as the overall achievement of the learning goals.


Elements Assessment Evaluation
Steps in process
  • Clear definition and planning of learning outcomes;
  • Assessment of learning outcomes;
  • Analysis of the assessment’s outcomes and results;
  • Adjustments and improvements according to the results of the assessment plan.
  • Definition of the evaluation’s scope;
  • Identification of the set standard that will be used in the evaluation;
  • Exploration of the student’s performance;
  • Comparison of the performance to the standards;
  • Making of the final judgment.
Focus or goal
  • The optimization of all students’ capabilities through the provision of motivation and direction for future learning (Epstein, 2007);
  • Protection of potential patients from incompetent practitioners;
  • Provision of a context for selecting successful students for further professional training.
  • Determination of quality of the medical student’s present performance, work product, as well as the use of set skills against the established medical standards (Starr, 2014);
  • • Documentation of the achievement level attained by the medical student.
  • At the end of the learning course/program;
  • The timing of the students’ learning assessment should not disrupt the educational process.
  • At the very end of the learning course.
  • Subsequent training;
  • Feedback from peers and educators;
  • Certification of the achievement level;
  • Assessment of clinical competence (Howley, 2004);
  • Identification of students’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Identification of whether the goals of specific initiative, assignment, or project have been met;
  • Comparison of the standards with the performance;
  • Final decision about the students’ success;
  • Identification of the value of the evaluation object (Vassar, Wheeler, & Franklin, 2010).
Provide an example
  • Clinical simulations:
  • High-tech simulations (assess teamwork, procedural skill, simulates clinical dilemmas) (Epstein, 2007);
  • Incognito standardized patients (assess real-life practice habits);
  • OSCEs and standardized patients (assess specific skills, interpersonal behavior, communication skills).
  • Utilization-focused evaluation:
  • Identification of the primary stakeholders (medical students);
  • Committing to the evaluation’s purpose;
  • Selection of the research design;
  • Data collections;
  • Interpretation of the findings;
  • Making decisions about the findings’ dissemination (Vassar et al., 2010).


Abdulla, A. (2008). A critical analysis of mini peer assessment tool (mini-PAT). J R Soc Med, 101(1), 22-26.

Epstein, R. (2007). Assessment in medical education. N Engl J Med, 356, 387-396.

General Medical Council. (2011). Assessment in undergraduate medical education. Web.

Howley, L. (2004). Performance assessment in medical education: where we’ve been and where we’re going. Eval Health Prof, 27(3), 285-303.

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Starr, S. (2014). Moving from evaluation to assessment. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 102(4), 227-229.

Vassar, M., Wheeler, D., & Franklin, J. (2010). Program evaluation in medical education: an overview of the utilization-focused approach. J Educ Eval Health Prof, 7, 1-8.

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