Effects of a Composite Examination Method, Which Assesses Multiple Courses on the Same Day, on the Performance of PharmD Students in a Basic Pharmacokinetics Course

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Objective: To investigate the effects of multicourse, composite examinations on the performance of students in a Pharmacokinetics course.

Methods: A linear, mixed-effects model was used to analyze individual students’ performances in identical daily quiz (N=55) and examination (N=47) questions in a Pharmacokinetics course at two schools of pharmacy (Texas Tech University, N=162 and Chapman University, N=79). The entire course was taught by the same instructor at both institutions. The only difference between the two courses was that the method of administration of examinations was different between the Texas Tech (traditional, individual course examinations) and Chapman (multicourse, composite examinations) cohorts.

Results: Students’ scores (mean ± SE) in the identical daily quiz questions, which were administered in an identical manner to students in both schools, were the same for Texas Tech (74.1 ± 0.82) and Chapman (74.7 ± 1.26) students. However, the grades of students in the multicourse examinations in the Chapman group (82.0 ± 1.09) were significantly (p<0.0001) lower than those in the individual course examinations in the Texas Tech group (90.6 ± 0.49). This difference amounted to an effect size of 1.15, indicating a large difference between the two cohorts in terms of their examination scores. The mixed-effects model revealed a negligible difference (0.622%) between the two student cohorts in terms of their academic abilities but showed a substantial effect (9.40%) for the examination format in favor of single course assessment.

Conclusions: When compared to the traditional, individual course examination, composite examination significantly reduces the grades of students in a Pharmacokinetics course.


This article was originally published in American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education in 2017. DOI: 10.5688/ajpe6286


American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education