Open Access Biomedical Publisher Using Post Publication Peer Review
Dr. Shobha's article on developing an assessment scheme for PBL performance and its correlation with other assessment system is a very important issue in PBL process especially during the brainstorming as well as the presentation sessions. The paper is well written, methodical, systematic and organised with a clear mention of the process and its outcome.
The skills assessed in the PBL and the skills assessed in other forms of assessment (short essay and MTF) are slighlty different. Hence, correlation between these two is slightly difficult. One is a summative assessment and the other is formative.
There are some typographical (spelling) mistakes and a minor change in the graphs is suggested. The parametres (titles) on the X and Y axes are not mentioned.
I am actively involved in teaching Medical Microbiology and also research in Medical Education. I have published papers on SDLs, Pathways MCQs as a strategy for learning and also designing problems for PBL sessions. I am currently working on a FAIMER fellowship project on enhancing facilitation skills among PBL tutors. I have been actively involved in the PBL process and curriculum at our institution from the time of its inception contributing in framing and analyzing problems (triggers), assessment of students performance and periodic review of the curriculum.
The article by Shobha et al aimed to show the correlation of the assessment of problem based learning (PBL) module with other existing assessment methods and its reliability. The assessment in problem based learning consisted of: assessment of brainstorming, presentation, participation, and content coverage based on the objectives, while the other assessment methods that were compared to problem based learning assessment were short essay and multiple true false questions .
Problem based learning assessment is an assessment of the process of gaining the knowledge, while the other assessments are summative assessments to assess the knowledge. They are complementary, and the moderate and significant correlation between them  may be interpreted as moderate and significant correlation between the process and the outcome. However, it is not clear, whether the scores from the PBL assessments (process scores) were higher or lower compared to the scores from short essay and multiple true false questions (exam scores), as the illustration-6 that should show the correlation between process and exam scores is not accessible. Our early experience showed that process scores were higher compared to exam scores, and this fact made most of the students could pass the module, as their module final scores that were calculated using the process and exam scores were higher than the passing grade.
In the problem based learning student seriousness is very important , as students should assume responsibility for their own learning and gain the most of knowledge by themselves and by active learning . However, our own early experience in problem based learning that started in 2005  showed that process scoring made the students active in discussions, but many of the students were not serious in searching of required information . The reason was the problem based learning assessment methods that mainly scored the process. The same as the scoring by Shobha et al , we also only gave one score for the assessment of content coverage , and the students knew about the scoring system that mainly scored the process.
Moreover, assessment of content coverage is not an easy task. The opposite to Shobha et al findings that showed no difficulties in process scoring , my own experiences as a tutor in many modules revealed difficulties when I had to score content coverage of the subjects that are not my expertise. Though we got a list of objectives, difficulties arose as we were not sure whether the objective was sufficiently addressed, and we did not know for sure, until how far and how deep they should go. Ideally, if a tutor should give a score for content coverage, the tutor should be a subject expert. However, to use subject experts as tutors is almost impossible, as there are more than 150 students per year, and every discussion covers a lot of topics from a lot of disciplines. Ideally, the tutors that facilitate the process should get refreshing about the content and how deep is the minimal requirement of knowledge that the students have to know.
In the Faculty of Medicine University of Indonesia, refreshing trainings are not feasible. Therefore, scoring for content coverage may result in bias. The article by Shobha et al gave trainings to tutors to facilitate the PBL process and the use of assessment system , but it is not clear, whether the trainings also included refreshing about the subjects that were listed in the objectives, and how deep was the minimal requirement of every subject. Further, from the materials and method section, it is not clear whether the process scores play a role in the passing judgment, though from discussion section that mentioned: “give neither advantage nor disadvantage to the students” can be interpreted that process scores played a role in the final score of the module . When the process scores really measure the content coverage and play a role in the final score, I believe that the students will take it seriously, and perform better in discussions.
In conclusion, process scoring is relevant in making the student to be more active in discussions, but when content coverage is not stressed, process scoring can not guarantee that the students will be serious in the collecting of
required knowledge. Therefore, ideally, process scores are included in the computation of final score, but the proportion should not be too high.
Shobha KL, Pallath V. Initial experiences of developing an assessment scheme for problem based learning module in an undergraduate preclinical curriculum. WebmedCentral Medical Education 2011;2(1):WMC001477.
Lisa Giddings. Student Collection of Primary Data: A Pedagogical Tool to Improve Comprehension. University of Wisconsin Teaching Forum. [Serial on the internet] 2007 Sept [[cited 2008 Aug 8] September 28, Edition:[about 15 p.]. Available from: http://www.uwosh.edu/programs/teachingforum/public_html/?module=displaystory&story_id=695&format=html
Neo WKL. Jump start authentic problem-based learning. Singapore: Prentice Hall; 2004
Pawitan JA. Pembelajaran berdasarkan masalah (problem based learning): haruskah bersamaan dengan integrasi vertical?[Problem based learning: should it be applied with vertical integration?] (Article in Indonesian). J Indones Med Assoc. 2006; 56: 609-13.
Pawitan JA, Sukmawati D. Association between presence in lectures and student knowledge gain in problem based learning: experience in Neuropsychiatry module, FMUI, International program. Med J Indones 2009;18(2):131-4.
NB: Point 10. Most references of the article are old (not up to adte).
I am involved in developing of modules for problem based learning, resource person, lecturer and facsilitator in PBL, and also doing research in Medical education,
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