, Volume 377, Issue 1, pp 55-63
Date: 11 Jan 2008

The semi-structured triple jump—a new assessment tool reflects qualifications of tutors in a PBL course on basic pharmacology

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In spite of major efforts, there are only a few assessment tools reflecting learning outcomes particularly attributed to problem-based learning (PBL). We aimed to design a more appropriate assessment method by merging elements of the key features and the triple-jump approach. In a prospective, two-phase study, we designed and validated a new assessment tool, called the semi-structured triple jump (sTJ). At the end of a course on basic medical pharmacology, it was performed in addition to a final exam composed of multiple-choice questions. Since in a previous study we had shown tutor expertise to influence students’ perception of the learning process, we examined the effect of tutor expertise on results obtained with these assessment tools. We newly developed a questionnaire for student evaluation of the PBL learning process that was validated and tested for reliability. Our aim was to answer two major questions: (1) Does our newly designed assessment tool come up with methodical claims like validity, objectivity and reliability? (2) Does our newly designed assessment tool reflect differences in tutors’ expertise? The semi-structured triple jump turned out to be a valid and highly objective assessment tool showing a moderate reliability as found with other triple-jump modifications before. Interestingly, several steps of the sTJ showed a significant correlation to either tutors’ subject- or method-matter expertise, respectively. Our data support the approach of supplementing the assessment by structured case-based tools to make it more appropriate for PBL.