Assessment programs and their components: a network approach
Exams and other assessments in health science education are not random events; rather, they are part of a bigger assessment program that is constructively aligned with the intended learning outcomes at different stages of a health science curriculum. Depending on topical and temporal distance, assessments in the program are correlated with each other to a more or lesser extent. Although correlation does not equate causation, once we come to understand the correlational structure of an assessment program, we can use that information to make predictions of future performance, to consider early intervention for students who are otherwise likely to drop out, and to inform revisions in either assessment or teaching. This article demonstrates how the correlational structure of an assessment program can be represented in terms of a network, in which the assessments constitute our nodes and the degree of connectedness between any two nodes can be represented as a thicker or thinner line connecting these two nodes, depending on whether the correlation between the two assessments at hand is stronger or weaker. Implications for educational practice and further research are discussed.
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