A Backward Glance, the Forward Gaze: Evaluation in Problem-Based Courses

  • Karen Toulouse
  • Robert Spaziani
  • Patangi K. Rangachari
Part of the Innovation and Change in Professional Education book series (ICPE, volume 8)


That evaluation drives learning is an oft-repeated mantra, though what the purpose of that learning is or what it ought to be is debated. Problem-based learning (PBL) is often touted as providing an opportunity for students to learn more actively, foster self-directed learning and enable a platform for students from which they could launch useful, successful careers. Sixteen years ago, we contrasted the views of students and faculty on specific assessment tools used in an undergraduate science programme which had a significant PBL component (Rawnsley, Spaziani, & Rangachari, Probe 2:9–14, 1994). We now revisit our views about such procedures and see whether any of those that had been developed on largely academic grounds had a measurable impact on our professional lives. The report uses our individual cases to explore the ramifications of the notion of consequential validity.


Objective Structure Clinical Examination Quality Assurance Management Consequential Validity Tutorial Performance Early Childhood Learning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Buss, D. (2008). Secret destinations. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 45(3), 303–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dewey, J. (1938/1982). Logic: The theory of inquiry. New York: Irvington Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Eisner, E. W. (1985). The art of educational evaluation: A personal view. London and Philadelphia: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  4. Eva, K. W., & Regehr, G. (2008). “I’ll never play professional football” and other fallacies of self-assessment. The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 28(1), 14–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Geertz, C. (1973). Thick description: toward an interpretive theory of culture. In C. Geertz (Ed.), The interpretation of cultures: selected essays (pp. 3–30). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Grant, J. (1999). The incapacitating effects of competence: A critique. Advances in Health Science Education, 4(3), 271–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hall, G. B., Kamath, M. V., Collins, S., Ganguli, S., Spaziani, R., Miranda, K. L., et al. (2010). Heightened central affective response to visceral sensations of pain and discomfort in IBS. Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 22(3), 276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kennedy, K. J., Chan, J. K. S., Fok, P. K., & Yu, W. M. (2008). Forms of assessment and their potential for enhancing learning: Conceptual and cultural issues. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 7(3), 197–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Painvin, C., Neufeld, V. R., Norman, G. R., Walker, I., & Whelan, G. (1979). The “triple jump exercise” – a structured measure of problem solving and self-directed learning. Annual Conference on Research in Medical Education, 18, 73–77.Google Scholar
  10. Pokorny, H., & Pickford, P. (2010). Complexity, cues and relationships: Student perceptions of feedback. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11(1), 21–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Rangachari, P. K. (1994). Quality education for undergraduates in pharmacology: A Canadian experiment. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 15(7), 211–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rangachari, P. K. (2002). Student-designed clinical trials: Evaluating self-directed learning in pharmacology. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, 366(1), 44–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rangachari, P. K., & Mierson, S. (1995). A checklist to help students analyze published articles in basic medical sciences. The American Journal of Physiology, 268(6 Pt 3), S21–S25.Google Scholar
  14. Rangachari, P. K., & Nastos, S. (2010). Legacy TRIPSE (Tri-Partite Problem-Solving Exercises): Fostering student engagement and learning in large classes. The FASEB Journal, 24, 633.1.Google Scholar
  15. Rawnsley, K., Spaziani, R., & Rangachari, P. K. (1994). Evaluation in a problem-based course: Contrasting views of student and teacher. Probe, 2, 9–14.Google Scholar
  16. Sambell, K., Brown, S., & McDowell, L. (1997). “But is it fair?”: An exploratory study of student perceptions of the consequential validity of assessment. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 23(4), 349–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schon, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  18. Spaziani, R., Bayati, A., Redmond, K., Bajaj, H. S., Mazzadi, S., Bienenstock, J., et al. (2008). Vagal dysfunction in Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Assessed by colorectal distension and baroreceptor sensitivity. Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 20(4), 336–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Talbot, M. (2004). Monkey see, monkey do: A critique of the competency model in graduate medical education. Medical Education, 38, 587–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Toulouse
    • 1
  • Robert Spaziani
    • 2
    • 3
  • Patangi K. Rangachari
    • 4
  1. 1.Robarts Clinical Trials, Robarts Research Institute, University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Gastroenterology, St. Joseph’s HospitalHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Bachelor of Health Sciences (HONS) Program, McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

Personalised recommendations