CLS 212 Medical Microbiology

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Education in medicine:

Some questions remain about the validity of the pass marks used in the assessments.

What documentation do you need to assess and support the standard-setting process?


The standard setting refers to the process of determining the minimum pass requirement for students to be classified as competent or incompetent.

Commonly, there are multiple methods used to set cut-scores in clinical and written exams.

The standard setting procedure can raise some questions. It is important to resolve these issues so that there is no confusion as to whether or not the pass marks were correct.

A standard setting procedure must be supported and properly evaluated by relevant documents to ensure the credibility and defensibility (De Champlain, 2014).

Hejri (2014, p. 3) states that student assessment is an essential part of educational programs.

To enable medical students to learn, standard setting should be a priority for all educators.

Due to licensure or credentialing reasons, the examee’s decision whether they pass or fail is an important concern in medical education.

This means that the standard cannot be determined on an undefined basis.

It must be established using a particular method that considers the content of the examination.

While setting up the standard, you should also consider the performance of the examinees as a whole and the wider educational and social context.

There are many ways to establish the standard for written and clinical examination.

If norm-referenced standardsetting is used, only a certain percentage of the examinees need to pass.

The ability of each student must be documented in this case.

It is possible that competent students may fail the examination in this case.

The desired level of competency for all students in the case where the criterion is referenced, such as the borderline regression, must be documented.

The standard setting criteria includes proper documentation about borderline students as well as their capabilities.

Before judging students who are performing below the expected standard, it is necessary to estimate their potential performance.

It would be essential to understand these students in order to set the standard.

It is necessary to also evaluate the average students.

This would enable a norm-referenced concept instead of one based on criterion.

Another important criterion is the number and nature of judges.

Judges could decide to use different cut scores depending on their professional and educational backgrounds.

Such variations can also arise from differences in the knowledge, experiences and opinions of judges.

Documentation of the judges’ age, gender and educational experience, as well as their ethnicity, is necessary.

This is how you can sort out the differences. It’s best to document the details of each judge and then to compare their relevance when setting standards.

Although the exact number of panellists may vary, there should be a rule that allows for different opinions to be included and generate acceptable results (Jalili und Mortazhejri 2012.

Refer to

Medical education standard setting methods.

Understanding Medical Education: Theory, Evidence and Practice, pp.305-311.

Jalili M., 2014

Medical education standard setting: Fundamental concepts and emerging issues

Medical journal of Islamic Republic of Iran 28, p. 34.

M. Jalili, and S. Mortazhejri. 2012.

Four methods are used to establish a standard setting for objective structured clinical exams: Borderline regression, Angoff, Cohen’s and pre-fixed score.

Strides in Development of Medical Education. 9(1), pp.77–84.

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