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Indian medical postgraduate entrance examinations and learning outcomes

Author: 
Usha Adiga and Sachidananda Adiga
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Background: Assessment methods drive students’ learning significantly. Quality of learning depends mainly on the evaluation method. If evaluation method assesses only the surface learning, students tend to concentrate their learning at that level. If examination is focused on higher order thinking skills, it motivates students’ as well as teachers for higher order learning. We aim to assess our evaluation system for the selection of postgraduates to know their influence on our teaching learning process in the field of medicine. The objective is to evaluate the extent to which Indian Medical Postgraduate entrance examinations assess the different levels of cognitive domain in Biochemistry. Methodology: Biochemistry MCQs appeared in AIPGMEE, DNB, AIIMS, JIPMER entrance examinations for the selection of postgraduates in medical course over the last decade were analyzed and categorized based on the level of cognitive domain they were evaluating. Percentage of MCQs assessing knowledge (L1), comprehension (L2), application (L3), analysis (L4), synthesis (L5) and evaluation (L6) in each year in every entrance examination and the trend of biochemistry question setting in each entrance exam was studied. Results: It has been found that evaluation is mainly focused on lowest (most fundamental) level of learning in all the entrance examinations. Number of L1 questions was significantly higher in all exams. But MCQs assessing L2, L3 and L4 appeared in AIIMS and AIPGMEE in statistically insignificant number. Conclusion: As the main focus of postgraduate entrance exams is recall type of learning, it demotivates students from deep and strategic learning. Creative thinking, reasoning powers are not encouraged in the post-graduation aspirants. Modification of the evaluation method, by asking more number of application and analytical questions can motivate post-graduation aspirants as well as undergraduates to practice higher order learning skills.

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