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Assessment as learning in Medical Sciences

14 February 2024

3 minutes to read

Assessment as learning in Medical Sciences

Students on the second year, 30-credit module ‘Disease, diagnostics and therapeutics’ (CSC2012), engage with a range of formative and summative assessment tasks that help them develop their assessment literacy and evaluative judgement. By introducing structured, peer-assessed group and individual tasks that culminate in the creation of learning resources, module convenors Dr Alex Clarke (and former module convenor Dr Clare Gallon) have ensured that the module assessment and delivery are constructively aligned to support students’ progress. 

Group Peer Assessment on MURAL Revision Resources 

The largest summative assessment task (55%) is an open-book Short Answer Question (SAQ) exam at the end of the module. As part of their ongoing preparation for this exam, students engage in regular Structured Small Group Learning (SSGL) to develop their knowledge of key topics. Echoing a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach, students work in groups to complete set reading and research, using their knowledge to create a series of five collaborative concept maps on MURAL that are then peer-assessed by two other groups at the end of each term (worth 10% of the module mark). 

A template concept map on MURAL provided to students for their SSGL tasks.

This process ensures that students engage with content to create a series of resources for use in their open-book exam. Students also develop their assessment and feedback literacy through regular engagement with marking criteria as part of the peer-marking process, including building on previous feedback when they engage with this again in Term 2.

Individual E-Resource and engagement with Peer Assessment

Alongside their group’s portfolio of concept maps, students also create an individual e-Resource that is peer- and tutor-assessed, counting for 25% of the module. Students prepare for this by creating a formative submission in groups early in Term 1, and then engaging in a summative peer review exercise in Term 1 (10% of module mark). Introduced to the module in 2023/24, this peer review exercise is designed to support students’ assessment literacy with the criteria for their later summative e-Resource, and to help develop their skills in peer assessment and feedback ahead of  the peer assessment of their collaborative concept maps and individual e-Resource submissions. The task requires students to mark four exemplar submissions, and assesses the feedback that students provide as well as their interpretation of the marking criteria in assigning a grade to each exemplar. In Term 2, students complete their individual e-Resource, for which 70% of the mark is awarded through tutor assessment and 30% through engagement with peer assessment. Across the module, peer assessment is structured using a third-party platform (Aropä), with guidance provided on applying assessment criteria through a marked exemplar, and a benchmarking activity to calibrate their marking.

A video in which Clare and Alex talk students about how to peer assess e-resources.

Although summative peer assessment can seem daunting, Clare highlights the positive impact on students, after having observed them engaging with the peer-assessment task in class: ‘The analytical conversations that were going on in relation to the marking criteria showed that students were really learning about the assessment criteria while they were doing this.’ Alex also noted that the new peer review assessment has also helped students to understand more about marking and feedback, and to engage critically with the criteria.

Tutors’ Formative Assessment for Learning (AfL)

Alongside engaging students in numerous assessment, marking, and feedback tasks that develop their assessment literacy and confidence within the module, Clare and Alex also regularly engage in formative assessment of students’ learning to respond to their needs. Feedback is provided via Menti and a traffic-light system on their fortnightly group concept maps to identify concepts that students struggled with, and the module tutors provide support in a later workshop to address these topics. This is an example of formative assessment for learning (AfL), giving tutors a clear understanding of how their learners are progressing, and allowing them to run the module in a responsive, supportive manner.


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This case study was developed by Dr Eleanor Hodgson, Senior Educator Developer, following discussions with Dr Alex Clarke, Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, and Dr Clare Gallon, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences and Director of Education and Student Experience for undergraduate Biomedical Sciences.


Dr. Alex ClarkeDr. Clare Gallon
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