Providing insight into assessment practices in medical school at one Saudi Higher Education Institution: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Alghamdi, Nasim Ibrahim (2020) Providing insight into assessment practices in medical school at one Saudi Higher Education Institution: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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It is evident across the globe that assessment has become increasingly central to the whole process of higher education (HE) as an important part of the curriculum and the teaching and learning cycle. There is strong evidence in the literature that assessment for learning (AfL) is key for effective student learning and academic progress in HE context, particularly in the medical context. In response to this international movement towards innovative assessment, there are some recent attempts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) aiming to reshape and improve the assessment system. While AfL has been widely promulgated by a growing number of educational researchers, little research is available that considers medical lecturers and undergraduates’ experiences and perceptions of such AfL innovations, especially in Saudi learning context. The significant evidence about the influence of assessment on students’ learning drives this research to contribute to the Saudi HE reform. This study aims to investigate the practices of assessment and feedback in order to reshape the process of assessment in productive ways to enhance students’ learning and academic achievements.
Through a phenomenological research design, specifically interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), this thesis aims to obtain deep understanding of lecturers and undergraduate students’ lived-experiences and perceptions of assessment in a Saudi Applied Medical Sciences School. In looking to generate an insight into their experiences and perceptions, one-to-one semi-structured interviews with 10 lecturers and 5 focus groups with 34 students were conducted in order to explore their experiences of assessment and their perspective of its impact on students’ learning. The lecturers and undergraduate students’ lived-experiences have been contextualized and interpreted using a dual hermeneutics analysis method in which the phenomenon of assessment was co-interpreted by both participants and researcher.
The data of this study were qualitatively analysed following IPA steps which enables participants’ cognitive inner worlds to be explored. The findings reveal that there is a lack of clear theoretical underpinning frameworks of assessment practices in Saudi medical context. This is due to the rapid and major changes to move from the traditional to a new assessment culture. In addition, analysis of the responses shows there is a strong relationship between the medical discipline and assessment practices. Based on this relationship, students become more eager to use innovative types of assessment that require them to participate in their own development. Assessment also has a great influence on students’ approaches to learning where students tend to shift between deep approaches to “understanding” and a surface approaches such as “memorizing”, or to a strategic approach involving “a mix of two”, depending on the assessment methods used. As seen throughout the study’s findings, learners shift between different approaches to learning in order to suit the assessment demands of their modules. In order for policy and practice to support the implementation of AfL in the medical context, there is a need to ensure clarity and relevance of AfL to all stakeholders including lecturers and students. In addition, explicit and flexible models of change and reform should be adopted and sufficient support must be offered for a successful implementation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Assessment for learning, assessment in medical school, assessment and feedback.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Hayward, Professor Louise and Livingston, Professor Kay
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Dr. Nasim Alghamdi
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81550
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2020 09:09
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2022 10:04
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81550

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