A multi-year evaluation of medical student performance on and perceptions of collaborative gross anatomy laboratory examinations

Anat Sci Educ. 2022 Sep 14. doi: 10.1002/ase.2223. Online ahead of print.


Collaborative testing and its benefits have been reported in diverse disciplines across different types of academic institutions. However, there has been minimal research conducted on collaborative assessments in medical schools, particularly in the gross anatomy laboratory. The objectives of this study were to explore the effect of collaborative anatomy laboratory examinations on student performance and to gauge student perceptions of this assessment format. This study examined five academic years of medical students' performance on a two-stage, collaborative anatomy laboratory examination wherein each student's overall score was a weighted combination of scores from the individual and team examination. Analyses of a descriptive survey capturing students' perceptions of the assessment method were also performed. Individual examination averages increased since implementing the collaborative assessment (p < 0.001), and team examination averages were higher than individual examination averages (p < 0.001). Teams outperformed each of their team members 98% of the time. Teams had a greater than 0.90 incidence of answering a question correctly if more than one person in the group got the answer correct on the individual portion, and a 0.66 incidence of answering correctly if only one person in their group answered correctly on the individual portion. Student feedback identified the discussions and learning that took place during the team portion to be a beneficial feature of this assessment format. Students also reported that this collaborative assessment made them feel a higher level of responsibility to perform well, and that it improved their understanding of gross anatomy.

Keywords: assessment methodology; collaborative assessments; collaborative testing; gross anatomy education; laboratory examinations; medical education; practical examinations.