Author: Sarah Rees, Kath Bishop, Steve Capey & Andrew Grant
Undertaking a medical course can be a stressful experience for students, and this is exacerbated by the fact that the ranking system for foundation posts requires students to be split into deciles for the education performance measures (UKFPO), thus increasing competitiveness. A number of studies evaluating assessment marking systems for medical students have shown that a change to a pass/fail grading system improves psychological well-being e.g., reduces stress, improves mood and group cohesion. Therefore, we have recently implemented such a system for the marking of Graduate Entry Medicine student-selected projects; however, the majority of UK HEIs still use a graded system for coursework. Our preliminary data demonstrate that the failure rate is notably higher for assessments ranked using pass/fail compared with those under the previous system. One possible explanation is that markers feel more confident in failing students using a rubric which is considered to be more robust and less subjective. Our future studies will aim to evaluate whether the move to pass/fail grading will help students to focus on feedback, rather than on their marks relative to the rest of the cohort, under a graded system.