An online formative assessment tool to prepare students for summative assessment in physiology
Background. The didactic approach to teaching physiology in our university has traditionally included the delivery of lectures to large groups, illustrating concepts and referencing recommended textbooks. Importantly, at undergraduate level, our assessments demand a level of application of physiological mechanisms to recognised pathophysiological conditions.
Objective. To bridge the gap between lectured material and the application of physiological concepts to pathophysiological conditions, we developed a technological tool approach that augments traditional teaching.
Methods. Our e-learning initiative, eQuip, is a custom-built e-learning platform specifically created to align question types included in the program to be similar to those used in current assessments. We describe our formative e-learning system and present preliminary results after the first year of introduction, reporting on the performances and perceptions of 2nd-year physiology students.
Results. Students who made use of eQuip for at least three of the teaching blocks achieved significantly better results than those who did not use the program (p=0.0032). Questionnaire feedback was positive with regard to the administration processes and usefulness of eQuip. Students reported particularly liking the ease of access to information; however, <60% of them felt that eQuip motivated them to learn.
Conclusion. These results are consistent with the literature, which shows that students who made use of an online formative assessment tool performed better in summative assessment tasks. Despite the improved performance of students, the questionnaire results showed that student motives for using online learning tools indicated that they lack self-directed learning skills and seek easy access to information.