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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 103-108

Effect of faculty personality, rating styles, and learner traits on student assessment in medical education: A mixed-method study from the Aga Khan University, Karachi

1 Department of Family Medicine, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
2 Department of Educational Development, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

Correspondence Address:
Saniya R Sabzwari
Aga Khan University Hospital, Stadium Road, P.O. Box 3500, Karachi 74800
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_10_17

Background: Medical colleges invest considerable effort in developing assessment programs to effectively evaluate students across attributes of knowledge, skills, and behavior. While assessment by direct observation is designed to be objective, “soft characteristics” such as personality, demeanor of student, and assessor may make assessment more subjective. The effect of such attributes in medical education remains unclear and needs exploration. The objective of this study was to explore non-cognitive traits of assessor and learner to understand their roles in student assessment. Methods: A mixed-method study was conducted during March to June 2015. All clinical faculty members at the Aga Khan University were invited to participate in this study. A questionnaire was designed and completed by the study participants. Two focus group discussions (FGDs) with faculty members explored teacher and learner traits influencing student assessment. A documentary analysis of the yearly student feedback report with a focus on the section on assessment was also utilized. Data triangulation was achieved by combining three sets of data. Results: Fifty-four (28%) clinical faculty members completed the questionnaire and 11 participated in the FGDs. About 68% reported rating students leniently. More than 50% reported their personality as a factor influencing assessment and 76% reported student appearance influencing assessment. The documentary analysis identified faculty personality and rating styles as key issues affecting the validity of student assessment during ongoing observation. In the FGDs, traits such as eagerness, intuition in students, and body language were reported to influence faculty members during the assessment. Discussion: Softer attributes of trainer and trainee increase the subjectivity of student assessment. Ongoing faculty training and rater feedback are required for a robust and objective assessment.

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