, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 81-93,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 01 May 2011

Web-assisted assessment of professional behaviour in problem-based learning: more feedback, yet no qualitative improvement?

Abstract

Although other web-based approaches to assessment of professional behaviour have been studied, no publications studying the potential advantages of a web-based instrument versus a classic, paper-based method have been published to date. This study has two research goals: it focuses on the quantity and quality of comments provided by students and their peers (two researchers independently scoring comments as correct and incorrect in relation to five commonly used feedback rules (and resulting in an aggregated score of the five scores) on the one, and on the feasibility, acceptability and perceived usefulness of the two approaches on the other hand (using a survey). The amount of feedback was significantly higher in the web-based group than in the paper based group for all three categories (dealing with work, others and oneself). Regarding the quality of feedback, the aggregated score for each of the three categories was not significantly different between the two groups, neither for the interim, nor for the final assessment. Some, not statistically significant, but nevertheless noteworthy trends were nevertheless noted. Feedback in the web-based group was more often unrelated to observed behaviour for several categories for both the interim and final assessment. Furthermore, most comments relating to the category ‘Dealing with oneself’ consisted of descriptions of a student’s attendance, thereby neglecting other aspects of personal functioning. The survey identified significant differences between the groups for all questionnaire items regarding feasibility, acceptability and perceived usefulness in favour of the paper-based form. The use of a web-based instrument for professional behaviour assessment yielded a significantly higher number of comments compared to the traditional paper-based assessment. Unfortunately, the quality of the feedback obtained by the web-based instrument as measured by several generally accepted feedback criteria did not parallel this increase.