Do students benefit from pre-assessment?

Marko Žarak, from University of Zagreb Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, in Croatia, won the FEBS Open Bio Poster Prize at the FEBS Education and Training Conference, in Türkiye, on March 2024. His work was titled "Do students benefit from pre-assessment: Subjective and objective perspectives".
Do students benefit from pre-assessment?
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The FEBS Education and Training Committee is dedicated to advancing the quality of education in biochemistry and molecular biology across Europe. This committee, part of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS), aims to enhance both undergraduate and postgraduate education through various initiatives and activities.

The Croatian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (HDBMB), through the Committee for Education and Career Development, proposes and implements activities related to the education and career development of young scientists in Croatia. In the last couple of years, several workshops and courses have been organized on the topic of education in biosciences. After one of the workshops, the idea of conducting research on science education was developed. The results of this research were presented at the first-ever conference on education in molecular life sciences, the FEBS Education and Training Conference (FEBS ETC), which took place in Antalya, Türkiye , in March 2024.

The Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry at the University of Zagreb recognized the importance of involving students in the creation of teaching content. The only objective way to involve students in the creation of classes is to conduct entrance tests (pre-assessment tests). Before conducting the tests in one of the courses, we wanted to see students' attitudes towards the pre-assessment tests and their thoughts on whether students should be involved in creating classes at universities. All of the above formed the basis for conducting research, the results of which were presented at the first FEBS ETC.

Pre-assessment (PA) is a test designed to evaluate students' foundational knowledge and skills relevant to the course. It aids teachers in understanding students' strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to tailor teaching methods and course content accordingly. In our research, we analyzed PA results administered before the Immunology course at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry. Kahoot quizzes were utilized to enhance student engagement and participation, alongside assessing knowledge through quiz questions and evaluating student attitudes towards PA both pre- and post-assessment.

Findings indicated that students perceived their knowledge in basic subjects, such as physiology and pathophysiology, to be significantly lower than their grades in those courses. Despite recognizing this discrepancy, the majority did not take proactive steps to bolster their knowledge for the Immunology course. While many students advocate for active engagement in shaping the educational process, they generally hold negative attitudes towards PA. Even when performing well, students fail to view PA as a beneficial educational tool. Moreover, only a few students considered poor performance on PA as motivating, with the majority finding the tests challenging and the experience dreadful.

Figures representing the main results of the research.

Figures represent the main results of the research. Credit Marko Žarak.

We concluded that, while students acknowledge the importance of involvement in shaping the educational process, their perception of PA tends to be negative. It is imperative to raise awareness of the significance of PA as a pivotal tool that enables students to reflect on their knowledge, thereby facilitating mastery of the material. PA also provides teachers with essential insights for adjusting teaching methods and content appropriately to enhance student success.

The Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry at the University of Zagreb recognized the importance of teaching staff education, so ten employees of various academic degrees participated in the FEBS ETC. The outcome of the participation was the establishment of an Education Task Force Group at the faculty, which is a pledge for a better future for the education of young generations of scientists and experts in biosciences.

Group photo of participants at the FEBS ETC from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry University of Zagreb, with ruins at Antalaya showing in the background.

FEBS ETC conference participants from the
Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry University of Zagreb, Croatia.


Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

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