gms | German Medical Science

Research in Medical Education – Chances and Challenges International Conference

20.05. - 22.05.2009, Heidelberg

The role of exams in the new Model Curriculum in Human Medicine at Hannover Medical School (MHH) - Assessing quality and the quality of assessment

Meeting Abstract

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Research in Medical Education - Chances and Challenges 2009. Heidelberg, 20.-22.05.2009. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc09rmeE4

DOI: 10.3205/09rme24, URN: urn:nbn:de:0183-09rme248

Published: May 5, 2009

© 2009 Paulmann et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



„Assessment drives learning“ – this assertion represents common sense in academia, particularly with respect to medical education where student’s workload is traditionally high. In addition, one can reasonably add: „Assessment drives quality management“. Most notably, the diminution of the drop-out-rate and an identification of insufficiently qualified students are strategic objectives in higher education. Thus, teaching and assessment – as introduced at Hannover Medical School (MHH) – that is focussed on physician’s essential competencies also serve this purpose. This contribution shows in how far a comprehensive analysis of assessment data serves quality management in medical education.

In 2005, a new Model Curriculum in Medicine, called HannibaL (=Hannover integrated adaptive practice-related learning concept), was established at MHH. Within the framework of HannibaL the national exam (Erster Abschnitt der Ärztlichen Prüfung) - that soonest takes place after the second academic year - was substituted by a continuous test modus. The students attend seven modularized subjects , which are terminated by an exam. Each of the exams needs to keep up with the standard of the national exam in form and content what marks the most significant difference to other medical schools. Three chances are available to pass the respective test; otherwise the student can be removed from the register. With respect to medical education, the HannibaL assessment concept offers several advantages:

  • Compared with the national summative test, the method provides a better control of the learning progress. The co-existence of different forms of assessment (written, oral, practical) allows a more detailed analysis of the dimension “academic success” of the student,
  • When the student fails he/she can repeat the test quickly. That means a real time benefit for the student,
  • The test results provide an important feedback for the teachers. Thus, they can control the effectiveness of the teaching and a close connection of learning and testing is enabled.

The results of the last cohort that started in the academic year 2006/07 show that 68% of the students have passed all seven exams within the first two years of the curriculum. This value roughly matches the results of the MHH-cohorts which took part in the national exam before the model curriculum HannibaL was introduced: In autumn 2006, 84% of the reference group registered for the national exam, 72% of the reference group succeeded.

The focus of the contribution lies on the curriculum-related assessment at Hannover Medical School and its significance in the overall concept of Evaluation. In detail, the practical implementation as well as the validity of the results with regards to various stakeholders - the students, the teachers and the heads of administration - is discussed.