Perspectives on course management, teaching and assessment of undergraduate programmes at the medical school of the university of Zambia
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Over the years since its inception, the University of Zambia, School of Medicine remained a premier academic institution that prided itself with exceptionally high outcomes and graduates of high caliber. Such high quality remained the order of the day, even during the course of this study in the year 2018. However, despite such accolades, and during the course of the focus of this study from 2008 to 2016 high examination attrition rates and low students Grade Point Average (GPA) among undergraduate programmes have been observed in the School of Medicine of the University of Zambia (Field data, 2018). In order to delve into this issue, this study investigated staff and students‘ views regarding the relationship among course management, teaching approaches and assessment processes among undergraduate students trained at the University of Zambia, School of Medicine. A mixed methods approach involving qualitative and quantitative methods was employed to investigate the above mentioned issue. An exploratory sequential research design was used for data collection. Data were captured using two related sets of instruments. The first was an evaluation survey instrument on the Teaching and Learning of undergraduate programmes in the School of Medicine and document analysis. The second was a students‘ Focus Group Discussion schedule and an in - depth interview schedule for key informants regarding the GPA and examination attritions. Results of the two sets were compared. Quantitative data from the first set were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics while qualitative data from the second set were analysed using constant comparative method. The study revealed that the following contributed to low GPA and high examination attrition rates in the School of Medicine at the University of Zambia during the period under study: (a) there were inadequate teaching and learning spaces as well as inadequate information technology support, (b) there was a statistical significant difference in the workload of all courses among the various programmes, F (4, 596) = 8.53, ρ = .000 at ρ = .050 which were heavy, with little time allocated to them. The majority (92%) of MB ChB respondents and BSc Env respondents (75%) stated that the workload was heavy, (c) concepts were not explained in depth, which led to students‘ perceptions that courses were difficult, (d) despite having well qualified lecturers (54.7%) students were not availed with handbooks (62.6%) and course curriculum (53%). There was no statistical significant difference among the programmes, F (4, 596) = .600, ρ = .663 at ρ = .050, (e) there was little timely feedback (47.8%) and, where it was done, it lacked guiding comments (48%), (f) in some cases (28.8%) assessment tasks were misaligned with learning objectives. In conclusion, the study showed that the low students‘ GPA and high examination attrition rates at the Medical School of the University of Zambia were due to poor course management, inappropriate teaching approaches and improper assessment processes. In view of these findings, the study recommends that: (a) enrolment of students should be dependent on availability of infrastructure and facility capacities, (b) course contents (i. e. curricular) should be reviewed so that they are in accordance with the time allocated to them, (c) assessment tasks should be aligned with learning objectives, (d) feedback should be given to students on time and should be detailed, (e) the Department of Medical Education and Development (DMED) should consider organizing specific pedagogical training programmes for existing and newly employed academic staff.
The University of Zambia
- Medicine