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The educational impact of assessment: a comparison of DOPS and MCQs

Cobb, Kate A.; Brown, George; Jaarsma, Debbie A.D.C.; Hammond, Richard A.


Kate A. Cobb

George Brown

Debbie A.D.C. Jaarsma

Richard A. Hammond


Aim: To evaluate the impact of two different assessment formats on the approaches to learning of final year veterinary students. The relationship between approach to learning and examination performance was also investigated.

Method: An 18-item version of the Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ) was sent to 87 final year students. Each student responded to the questionnaire with regards to DOPS (Direct Observation of Procedural Skills) and a Multiple Choice Examination (MCQ). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 of the respondents to gain a deeper insight into the students’ perception of assessment.

Results: Students’ adopted a deeper approach to learning for DOPS and a more surface approach with MCQs. There was a positive correlation between an achieving approach to learning and examination performance. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that deep, surface and achieving approaches were reported by the students and seven major influences on their approaches to learning were identified: motivation, purpose, consequence, acceptability, feedback, time pressure and the individual difference of the students.

Conclusions: The format of DOPS has a positive influence on approaches to learning. There is a conflict for students between preparing for final examinations and preparing for clinical practice.


Cobb, K. A., Brown, G., Jaarsma, D. A., & Hammond, R. A. (2013). The educational impact of assessment: a comparison of DOPS and MCQs. Medical Teacher, 35(1), doi:10.3109/0142159X.2013.803061

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 2013
Deposit Date Apr 25, 2014
Publicly Available Date Apr 25, 2014
Journal Medical Teacher
Print ISSN 0142-159X
Electronic ISSN 0142-159X
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 1
Article Number e1598-e1607
Public URL
Publisher URL


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