gms | German Medical Science

4th Research in Medical Education (RIME) Symposium 2015

19.03-21.03.2015, München

Objectivity of written assessments: an approach to evaluate this criterion

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Volkhard Fischer - Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Studiendekanat, Hannover, Germany
  • author Ingo Just - Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Studiendekanat, Hannover, Germany

4th Research in Medical Education (RIME) Symposium 2015. München, 19.-21.03.2015. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2015. DocS1B1

doi: 10.3205/15rime12, urn:nbn:de:0183-15rime121

Published: March 12, 2015

© 2015 Fischer 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. See license information at



Introduction: Objectivity is most the fundamental of the criteria for the evaluation of assessment quality, although it is rarely examined. Based on the specific organization of the medical study programme at Hannover Medical School (MHH) we are able to comparatively test many of our module exams in respect of this criterion. The annual cohort of students is divided into three sub-cohorts (called „tertials“) which rotate against each other. Each module exam is therefore conducted three times in the academic year.

Methods: We selected every written exam in medicine within the last four years at MHH where the cohort has been split up into three tertials. The grouping is triggered by student preference. Because the curricula for these subjects are exactly identical in the three tertials, the distribution of grades should vary only randomly if the exams assess the students is the same way.

Distribution of grades was tested between these three exams per academic year with MANCOVAs. The modules were the covariate, while the selected years and the tertials were the independent variables. In a second step the exams of each year were separately compared.

Results: In the first MANCOVA the covariate (modules) had a significant effect, whereas there were no significant main effects for years and tertials. Because the significance level was only scarcely missed, separate MANCOVAs were performed for each year. Contrast analysis of the complete model and the MANCOVAs for each year show that there was a difference between the first three years and the last.

Discussion: The objectivity of exams is more fundamental than reliability and validity. The proof of its existence is a conditio sine qua non for the performance of a rotation in a curriculum. Our results show that it is possible to inspect this criterion for a whole study programme as well as for single modules.