Pilot study to evaluate the assessment methods of the basic pharmacology course at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Latvia

[Speaker] Jolanta Upite:1
[Co-author] Zane Dzirkale:1, Valdis Folkmanis:1, Vija Klusa:1, Baiba Jansone:1
1:Pharmacology, University of Latvia, Latvia

Background. Pharmacology is a compulsory subject for the professional degree programs, such as medicine, pharmacy, nursery and others. Evaluation of the assessment methods is an essential process to advance the overall quality of the course. Multiple choice question (MCQ) tests are common assessment methods to evaluated acquired knowledge of the students at the universities and sometimes they are replaced or complemented by oral colloquia. This pilot study was designed to determine the opinion of the fifth semester medical students at the University of Latvia on the different assessment methods used in the basic pharmacology course, which includes molecular pharmacology and psychopharmacology.
Methods. 76 % of the students attending the basic pharmacology course in the fifth semester participated in this survey. They were given a questionnaire and asked to answer anonymously to 24 questions. 17 questions were MCQ and seven required descriptive answers.
Results. The results show that 97% of the students found that the basic pharmacology course is difficult or very difficult. 68% of the students spend on average 15h to be prepared for the test. 51% students preferred a mixed evaluation scheme (colloquia alternating with MCQ), while 33% of the students prefer oral colloquia, indicating several advantages: they have possibility to demonstrate additional knowledge obtained by individual self-study learning, express and argue their opinion, as well as to participate in direct contact with the professor, thus improving their communication skills. At the same time, written MCQ tests cause less stress, however, sometimes they may misinterpret the questions.

Conclusions. The result of this pilot study highlighted a number of strengths and weaknesses for both oral colloquia and written MCQ tests as assessment methods for the basic pharmacology course. It may be concluded that applying different assessment methods in the same course are beneficious for assessment of the pharmacology course.

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