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close this bookEducational Handbook for Health Personnel (WHO, 1998, 392 p.)
close this folderChapter 2: Evaluation planning
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWhat is evaluation?
View the documentContinuous evaluation formative and certifying evaluation
View the documentAims of student evaluation1
View the documentCommon methodology for student evaluation1
View the documentComparison of advantages and disadvantages of different types of test
View the documentEvaluation in education qualities of a measuring instrument
View the documentEvaluation is a matter for teamwork

Comparison of advantages and disadvantages of different types of test


Oral examinations



1. Provide direct personal contact with candidates.
2. Provide opportunity to take mitigating circumstances into account.
3. Provide flexibility in moving from candidate's strong points to weak areas.
4. Require the candidate to formulate his own replies without cues.
5. Provide opportunity to question the candidate about how he arrived at an answer.
6. Provide opportunity for simultaneous assessment by two examiners.

1. Lack standardization.
2. Lack objectivity and reproducibility of results.
3. Permit favouritism and possible abuse of the personal contact.
4. Suffer from undue influence of irrelevant factors.
5. Suffer from shortage of trained examiners to administer the examination.
6. Are excessively costly in terms of professional time in relation to the limited value of the information yielded.

Unfortunately all these advantages are rarely used in practice.

Practical examinations, projects



1. Provide opportunity to test in a realistic setting skills involving all the senses while the examiner observes and checks performance.
2. Provide opportunity to confront the candidate with problems he has not met before both in the laboratory and at the bedside, to test his investigative ability as opposed to his ability to apply ready-made “recipes”.
3. Provide opportunity to observe and test attitudes and responsiveness to a complex situation (videotape recording).
4. Provide opportunity to test the ability to communicate under pressure, to discriminate between important and trivial issues, to arrange the data in a final form.

1. Lack standardized conditions in laboratory experiments using animals, in surveys in the community or in bedside examinations with patients of varying degrees of cooperativeness1.
2. Lack objectivity and suffer from intrusion or irrelevant factors.
3. Are of limited feasibility for large groups.
4. Entail difficulties in arranging for examiners to observe candidates demonstrating the skills to be tested.

Essay examinations



1. Provide candidate with opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge and his ability to organize ideas and express them effectively.

1. Limit severely the area of the student's total work that can be sampled.
2. Lack objectivity.
3. Provide little useful feedback.
4. Take a long time to score.

Multiple-choice questions



1. Ensure objectivity, reliability and validity; preparation of questions with colleagues provides constructive criticism.
2. Increase significantly the range and variety of facts that can be sampled in a given time.
3. Provide precise and unambiguous measurement of the higher intellectual processes.
4. Provide detailed feedback for both student and teachers.
5. Are easy and rapid to score.

1. Take a long time to construct in order to avoid arbitrary and ambiguous questions.
2. Also require careful preparation to avoid preponderance of questions testing only recall.
3. Provide cues that do not exist in practice.
4. Are “costly” where number of students is small.

1 Standardized practical tests can be constructed; see McGuire, C.H. & Wezeman, F.H. Simulation in instruction and evaluation in medicine. In: Miller, G.E. & FT., eds., Educational strategies for the health professions. Geneva, WHO, 1974 (Public Health Papers No. 61).

It is a highly questionable practice to label someone as having achieved a goal when you don't even know what you would take as evidence of achievement.

R.F. Mager

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