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Levelling the playing field: students' motivations to contribute to an amnesty of assessment materials

Gondhalekar, AR; Rees, EL; Ntuiabane, D; Janjua, O; Choa, G; Eboreime, O; Sturrock, A; (2020) Levelling the playing field: students' motivations to contribute to an amnesty of assessment materials. BMC Medical Education , 20 (1) , Article 450. 10.1186/s12909-020-02320-0. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: 'Exam recall' is a recognised phenomenon whereby students recall and record questions after leaving the examination hall. This poses two main problems. First, as these questions are only available to peers of the students who recall the questions, these individuals have an unfair advantage. Secondly, the distribution of these recalled questions poses a threat to the validity and defensibility of assessments. To address the first of these problems, we developed an amnesty enabling students to submit assessment material to an on-line site. This study sought to explore which factors influence students' contributions to an amnesty of assessment material. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured focus groups. We used convenience sampling and recruited participants from all years of our undergraduate medical programme. The focus groups were facilitated by a medical student peer to reduce the power imbalance and encourage participants to discuss candidly. The focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two researchers independently analysed all transcripts using thematic analysis and the research team met regularly to discuss emergent findings. Nvivo was used to assist with thematic analysis of the transcripts. RESULTS: Twenty-six individuals participated in six focus groups. Six themes were identified through the analysis, which were categorised into motivating factors and de-motivating factors. Motivating factors were a perception that this would overcome inequity, a fear of repercussions, and the perceived usefulness of resources. Factors that prevented students contributing were a culture of competition, a lack of incentives, and mistrust of the medical school. CONCLUSIONS: The establishment of an amnesty was acceptable to students and they were motivated to contribute materials. The competitive nature of medical careers and the stakes of summative assessments meant that students felt that some peers might still not contribute their materials. Students felt that the school were listening to their concerns and this led to a better dialogue between students and faculty.

Type: Article
Title: Levelling the playing field: students' motivations to contribute to an amnesty of assessment materials
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-020-02320-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-020-02320-0
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 BioMed Central Ltd. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Cheating, Examination, Fairness, Focus group, Inequity, Medical education, Qualitative, Undergraduate
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > UCL Medical School
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116145
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