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ARTICLE |

The Current and Potential Use of Course Examinations

Hilliard Jason, MD, EdD
JAMA. 1966;198(3):289-290. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110160117034.
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ABSTRACT

Undergraduate medical education, with very rare exception, is divided into discrete courses, each dealing with a specific subject area, such as physiology, physical diagnosis, or pediatrics. Characteristically, our assessment of student achievement relies heavily upon examinations based on these courses. There are two aspects of this practice to which I will focus our attention: (1) some of the educational implications of compartmentalizing our instruction and evaluation into "courses" and (2) the consequences of basing our assessments of students largely on formal examinations. Both of these matters lead into the larger questions of what it is that we want students to learn and how we can best assure ourselves that they have learned.

Meanings of Course Examinations  In the final course examinations which we administer, we are knowingly or unknowingly saying to the students, "This is a sampling of the central issues you were to have derived from our instruction; this

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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