Validity of Student Course Final Exams Scores through Determine Correlation, Health School, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Biostatistics, School of Health, Health Sciences Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IRAN

2 Student Research Comitee, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, IRAN

3 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Gonabad, IRAN

4 Environmental Science and Technology Research Center, Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, IRAN

5 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Health Sciences Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IRAN

Abstract

Background: Final exam is one of evaluation methods of students. We can utilize indexes such as difficulty index and discrimination index in order to analyze each test questions or to determine questions taxonomy. However, these methods have inter- testing look and do not consider the relationship between various tests results. Inter correlation between final exam score and the average indirectly shows the relationship between various tests results. The present study is performed with the aim of determining Bachelor students’ scores correlation rate in the curriculum year of 92-93 in health college of Mashhad Medical Sciences.
Methods: in this cross- sectional study 158 B.S students were examined in three different health areas of interest in Health College. Average, students’ scores in each course and curriculum case demographic characteristics were elicited. We used Pierson test for correlation test of students’ scores with total grade. Test level of significance considered p<0, 05.
Results: research findings shows that a higher average in Mashhad indigenous and female students than Mashhad non- native and male students. Furthermore, the results of scores correlation test with grade indicate the least correlation rate in general courses than in specific courses.
Conclusions: we can make use of this methodology for test assessment with respect to correlation test validity and simplicity. 

Keywords


Introduction

Examining the history of academic services can make clear the relationship between university and national development. Because if the history of academic services development  correlates with social, political and economic development and progress in terms of time and their vicissitudes and swings coincide, this can to some extent indicate their correlation (1). In recent decades higher education system experienced vast social, economic, cultural changes due to facing the development of technology and fulfilling the needs of society encountered fundamental issues (2). Failure to achieve the predetermined educational goals is one of the most important problems of each educational system (3). One of the key roles of higher education system is training efficient human force to work in different necessary parts of society. Producing knowledge, fulfilling the needs of society, training experts, and finding solutions to solve social problems are some of the main and final goals of universities(2). Teaching must be done through s suitable methods. Providing satisfaction and learning motivation in students and teachers’ teaching style requires a scientific context (4).

There are different factors involved in the education qualitative improvement. One of the most important ones is curriculum change or revision, improvement and change of the teaching style, the change in education supporting process  as well as assessment methods and curriculum development assessment(5). Assessment or evaluation means determining subject value or judging the value, importance and quality of a phenomenon. This phenomenon can be a student, teacher, educational system or curriculum in educational issue (6). In each curriculum, assessment is an important column that can conduct training from static status to dynamic one. Furthermore, it is one of the outstanding features in educational activities process and creates the possibility to recognize strengths and weaknesses. We can take suitable steps toward evolution making and educational reformation by reinforcing positive features and obviating insufficiencies (7). Assessment method can improve learning approach and increase students’ learning. Lack of fundamental assessment of educational programs even in general section is more tangible and probably this part of program is one of the most undeveloped features of formal and informal education process in general organization. Program and curriculum evaluation has attracted considerable attention in organizations and institutes of higher education human source managers and experts (2).  According to the experts, reforming evaluating methods, as the most important column of education, will result in the improvement of education more effectively. One of the essential components of educational planning is assessment (9).  Classroom assessment structures can affect processes with the aim of improvement and curriculum performance.  Hence, a great deal of attention must be attracted to the assessment method and its consequences in designing educational methods (10). At the end of each course, test persuasive learning will not be tested; rather the knowledge will be tested since learning is an internal action. We can make use of students’ evaluation results to judge their performance and judge about the effectiveness of quality, methods and materials. An effective evaluation not only has considerable role in students’ distinction, but also helps the teacher in evaluating his activities and an appropriate solution to solve the curriculum problems can be proposed. It should also be noted that average scores of different courses is not independent of its course teacher (11). Assessment follows different aims such as students’ ranking, understanding their educational problems, evaluating applied teaching methods and the degree of success in the related courses. It should be considered that assessment has been an inseparable part of education and each student performance must be along with evaluated educational goals and assessment methods must be in harmony with educational purposes. Therefore, evaluation is a continuous phenomenon and must accompany students’ feedbacks (9). Generally, teachers utilize stage assessment, but consider final exam assessment as the most important factor (12). Examining students’ exam marks during the course and comparing them in different educational units can indicate students’ scores validity indirectly. Little difference in students’ scores and high internal correlations can be indicative of exams’ internal correlation and indirectly reflects the validity rate of exam scores. We can make use of indexes such as difficulty index and discrimination index or determine the questions taxonomy to analyze the questions of each test. However, these methods have inter -testing look and do not consider the relationship of tests results (13).

There are different factors affecting the correlation rate and the average. We can refer to gender, age, marital status, teaching style, course teacher, course number of units, methodology, etc. as some important factors. So far, many researchers addressed the effects of these factors on the results of assessment. Campos et al, did a research in this field study with the title of family doctor assessment correlation which gain success in university theoretical courses (14). Moreover, another research was performed in Zahedan Medical Sciences University by the title “examining the effective factors on curriculum development” that shows the most important factors for academic achievement were studying methods, time of study, and interest in field of study as well as concentration and attention at the time of study. According to the results of this study, holding educational workshops regarding curriculum planning, learning and studying methods can be effective in students’ academic achievement (15).

With respect to the above-mentioned subjects, it appears that analyzing exam questions and students exam scores in various courses can be applied for assessing the performance of teachers and different educational groups. If the smart students’ marks in most courses have little correlation with a course or vice versa such case will be noticed in a weak student, this question arises that why this mark has no correlation with other courses. Such distinctions can be understood only through examining scores internal correlation (16).  Due to inevitable importance of final exam evaluation, and by considering that no investigation and comparison has so far been done among the assessment results of fields of general, environmental and occupational health, this research is performed with the aim of determining the correlation rate of B.A students’ scores in the curriculum year of 92-93 in Health College of Mashhad Medical Science University.

Methods

In this cross- sectional research, research units were B.S students of Health College of Mashhad Medical Science University. First, research subject was examined in university education development center. Then the project was approved and necessary licenses were obtained, and then we referred to college department of education in order to collect data. With respect to research goals which was comparison of B.S students’ scores correlation and by choosing the curriculum year of 1392-93, the second mentioned semester data was chosen as common semester for investigation since the entrance to university semester of these two groups were different and on the other hand B.S (associate degree) had only apprenticeship as course unit in the last semester. All final exam marks along with the same semester average and demographic characteristic of students though without mentioning the students’ names were elicited. All final exam marks in each course was defined as a constant. To this point, if a student takes the same course more than once and had different marks, we calculate the average of them and entered it in statistical analysis. Finally, by omitting guest and exchange students, related information about 158 students ‘scores were statistically analyzes by SPSS software.

Results

In this study, we analyzed 158 Mashhad Health College students ‘scores. On the whole, according to table 1, finding shows that mean GPA of all female students was higher than the males and there was a level of significance (p, 0.001). The mean GPA in general health and occupational health was higher than environmental health students. In addition, the resultant outcomes of correlation test between B.S and associate had no level of significance.

Correlation test results by separating gender, field of study and area were shown in the following table.

Table 1. GPA based on demographic information

characteristics

number

standard deviation)Mean(

Exam results

t

P value

Academic grade

B.S

77

15.88 ± 1.63

-          0.352

0.727

 

associate

81

15.98 ± 2..35

gender

female

119

16.19 ± 1.41

2.30

 

0.026

male

39

15.16 ± 2.65

Field of study

Environmental health

55

15.20 ± 2.23

7.51

0.001

General health

56

16.46 ± 1.22

Occupational health

47

16.45 ± 1.71

city

Mashhad

83

16.18 ± 1.61

1.75

0.082

others

75

15.66 ± 2.05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the table 2, correlation test shows that by aging associate student had a decrease in average GP as 0.204 but was not statistically significant. In B.S students, there was no significant relationship between the mean and the age.

 

Table 2.the correlation between total mean of B.S and associate students

Academic area

number

Age average

Mean GPA

Correlation coefficient

Level of significance

B.S

77

21.55 ± 1.56

15.88 ± 1.63

- 0.204

0.0076

associate

81

27.53 ± 5.58

15.98 ± 2.03

0.072

0.524

 

Presented courses scores in the second semester of 92-93 curriculum year, and total average in the B.S and associate students in three health fields of study were investigated. The correlation test results among different courses and the average of general health B.S students were presented in table 3. It shows that the course Microbiology had the highest scores and school health had the lowest correlation with the students ‘total term average.

 

 Table 3.The correlation between the course scores and total GPA of B.S general health students

courses

Scores’ average

Correlation coefficient

Level of significance

Interpretation of Quran

16.23

0.569

0.002

Vital statistics

14.68

0.681

> 0.001

Principles of epidemiology

16.94

0.539

0.003

microbiology

13.45

0.762

> 0.001

Regulations of nutrition

15.18

0.714

> 0.001

Health economy

17.3

0.699

> 0.001

School health

18.31

0.217

0.258

Semester mean GPA

16.29

 

According to the table4, the correlation test among different courses and the average of B.S students of occupational health shows that the courses general mathematics and first aids had the highest correlation and the course Islamic thoughts had the lowest correlation with the students’ term total average.

Table 4. The correlation between the course scores and total average of B.S Occupational health students (n=21)92

courses

Scores’ average

Correlation coefficient

Level of significance

Interpretation of Quran

17.43

0.585

0.011

 

Islamic Thought

14.47

0.346

0.135

 

Solid mechanics

12.90

0.766

> 0.001

Specific physics

16.85

0.636

0.002

Analytical Chemistry

16.85

0.648

0.002

General mathematics

18.34

0.861

 

> 0.001

First aids

18.01

0.794

> 0.001

Knowing industries

14.93

0.761

> 0.001

Total average

16.37

 

 

 

According to table 5, the correlation test examination among different courses B.S environmental health students’ average shows that the courses model- making in environmental health systems and industrial waste water had the highest correlation and the course Iran Islamic revolution had the lowest correlation with the students’ whole term average.

Table5. Correlation between course scores and total average of B.S environmental health students (n=27)90

courses

Scores average

Correlation coefficient

Level of significance

Iran Islamic Revolution

17.15

0.159

0.448

Soil Mechanics

14.78

0.753

> 0.001

Urban and industrial solid waste 

13.50

0.719

> 0.001

exploitation and maintenance of water and wastewater

13.38

0.694

> 0.001

Environmental health management in emergencies

14.96

0.682

> 0.001

Introduction to Model- making in Environmental Health systems

15.04

0.775

> 0.001

Environmental laws and regulations and environmental health

14.57

0.714

> 0.001

Industrial wastes

15.27

0.773

> 0.001

Total average

15.06

 

 

 

According to table 6, correlation test in associate general health group displays that the course environmental health had the highest and the course human ecology had the lowest correlation with the total average.

Table6. Correlation between course scores and total average of B.S general health students

courses

Scores average

Correlation coefficient

Level of significance

Learning computer skills

15.59

0.544

0.003

Biochemistry

15.39

0.50

0.008

Human Ecology

18.07

0.403

0.037

rehabilitation

16.91

0.622

0.001

Environmental Health 1 water

17.17

0.787

> 0.001

Vital statistics

15.79

0.759

> 0.001

Health education and communication

15.37

0.549

0.003

Food health

16.69

0.709

> 0.001

Total average

16.65

 

 

 

The correlation in associate B.S occupational health as presented in table 7, shows that the course Principles of Sampling had the highest and the course Work-related diseases (2) and general mathematics 2 had the lowest correlation with the average.

 

Table 7. Correlation between course scores and the total average of B.S occupational health

courses

Scores average

Correlation coefficient

Level of significance

Islamic Thought 2 ( Prophet hood and Imamat)

15.68

0.727

> 0.001

General mathematics 2

17.87

0.689

> 0.001

Vital statistics ( 2 )

14.83

0.732

> 0.001

Specific physics

17.42

0.816

> 0.001

Principles of Sampling the Air

14.48

0.861

> 0.001

Work- related disease 2

17.38

0.618

> 0.001

Specific English

15.70

0.703

> 0.001

Safety in the workplace 2

 

14.64

0.853

> 0.001

Total average

15.98

 

 

 

According to table 8, after analyzing the courses in B.S associate students of environmental health, correlation test results show that the courses Food inspection and control and Environmental chemistry had the highest  and the course mathematics had the lowest correlation with the total average.  

Table 8. Correlation between course scores and the total average of B.S Environmental health students (n=28)92

courses

Scores average

Correlation coefficient

Level of significance

Mathematics

12.40

0.373

> 0.001

Computer applications

15.46

0.539

> 0.001

Application of Statistical Methods in Environmental Health

15.32

0.569

> 0.001

Environmental chemistry

15.75

0.689

> 0.001

Environmental microbiology

16.00

0.439

> 0.001

radiation health and protection

15.58

0.633

> 0.001

Control and inspection of food

17.80

0.696

> 0.001

Principles of hydrology and hydrogeology

16.66

0.557

> 0.001

Total average

15.34

 

 

 

Discussion

Assessment is one of the most important ways of investigating the efficiency of a system. In order to have a dynamic and effective higher education system, an efficient and compiled assessment program is needed. In addition to evaluating the students and their knowledge, having a standard assessment program can be an appropriate feedback of the knowledge, transferring the knowledge skill, and teachers command. We examined different factors such as gender, field of study, being native as well as courses correlation with students’ total average. Our findings show that among the three different health areas, mean GPA of environmental health students was lower than the other two fields of Health. It could be due to numerous calculations and the engineering nature of this field courses. The high school major of environmental health students was science. Therefore, these students did not learn mathematical and physics based courses specifically and they may face problems calculating mathematical and physics based courses. In addition, based on the results, and mean GPA of Mashhad student was 0.5 higher than non-native students and average deviation of Mashhad non-native students was more than native ones. This difference may be as a result of different problems and difficulties that students who reside in dormitories may face with. Furthermore, being away from friends and family affects learning level and concentration. In order to obviate these problems, authorities can revise and reconsider universities acceptance rate in different cities and take native students in their own birthplace as the most important factor of students’ acceptance. The results of correlation test in our study shows different correlations between different courses and the average. In most tests, general courses had the lowest and the specific courses had the highest correlation with the average. A similar research result titled” the validity of academic achievement exams through Pharmacy students’ scores correlation in Kerman Medical Sciences University” confirms this case. In that study, there is low correlation in physical education course and the other courses (13). A revision of courses with low correlation in the relevant specific group and decision-making regarding different ways of holding the exams in other groups expect the specific group could be useful and practical. Correlation test results demonstrate that the average decreases to 0.204 by aging. However, this decrease was not statistically significant. Aging and matrimony affect the life problems. This decrease in average may be as a result of increase in life problems and job status. Since most of the B.S (associate) are married, they dedicate less time to studying than single students. Nevertheless, in another study it is proved that older students contribute more to training courses. It is suggested to consider and study theoretical and practical courses in different age groups and different year of university entrance in order to better analyze the effect of age on students’ scores (13).

Overall, it can be said that high standard deviation in each course is indicative of more students’ scores variation or dispersion in that course. This variation in a classroom can reflect less course correlation with total average. In addition, dispersed score and high standard deviation in a group indicates the course assessment was not standard. The comparison of the mean GPA of female and male students showed that female students had higher mean GPA. This significant difference could be due to boys’ financial independence in the family. Especially, when they get married they spend more time working. Besides, interest in studying is less in men than in women and they dedicate less time studying. According to above-mentioned reasons women spend less time in society. Another research, which was done on the female and male students’ scores though a written test, confirmed this result. In that study, female students had better performance than male students in written exams. There was no difference in students’ valuation scores of teachers. However, female students got better marks in the apprenticeship final exam (17). To confirm the results of this study we can refer to another research working on the effective factors involved in the success of Medical science Universities students. The study also indicates that among demographic factors gender has an effect on students’ educational achievement and female students were not more successful than male ones (15).

We can make use of this method for rating the assessment in different majors, grades and courses with respect to simplicity and validity of correlation test. Likewise, by replacing teachers’ assessment by students we can omit biased and unreliable evaluations. In this study we examine the students’ scores in one semester. It is suggested to perform this research on different course units and apprenticeship of on students of health fields and based on results we can have a better and more careful programming about different parts.

Financial Resources

The present study, number: 930593, is approved by Research Deputy of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. 

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. 

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