The introduction of web-based formative assessment in medical science: An action research project

Robert B. Dow


A brief review of the literature would suggest that formative assessment (feedback) is an important determinant of student performance (Ramsden 1992). Buchanan (1998) has described formative assessment as procedures, which are designed to give students appropriate feedback in a form, which they may use to guide their future efforts. This is distinct from summative assessment, which is designed to formally rank students, e.g. end of semester examinations. Haematological Techniques 1 (LSA 322) is part of the course program for the Associate Degree in Medical Laboratory Techniques at the Queensland University of Technology. It is a subject that has been traditionally assessed by only final practical and theory examinations, with a fail rate of about 10% (Forster 1999). Comments from previous student evaluations in this subject have reflected favourably on some of the feedback that is presently undertaken for the students, principally 'spot tests' conducted during practicals (QUT 1998). The introduction of some formative assessment, which addresses the theory, will complement present practice and perhaps improve learning outcomes for the students.

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