Practical examinations

A lot of work – but worth the effort

The new focus on compe­tencies puts practi­cal examina­tions at center stage. They, more than any other form of examina­tion, give students the opportu­nity to demon­strate their know­ledge, skills and abilities in action. Initial experien­ces with practi­cal exams at the TUM show that, though they require more time and effort, they provide reliable evidence of students’ acquired compe­tencies and effectively focus the learning process. More­over, practical exams are instruc­tive and often even fun for both students and teachers. 

To test students’ competen­cies, they must be given the opportu­nity to put their know­ledge, skills, and abilities into action in the most realistic problem-­solving situations possible.  Creating such situations for the purpose of an examination is complex, requiring the organi­zation of activi­ties such as: 

  • role play
  • simulations, experimental games
  • model building, programming
  • circuit stations at which students demonstrate acquired skills

Medical students, for example, might complete the “Objective Structured Clinical Examination” (OSCE), a parcours consis­ting of various standardized stations where students are required to apply their training on actor-­patients, class­mates, or dummies by perfor­ming such tasks as setting a cast, inserting a catheter, explaining a dia­gnosis, etc.).  Students are observed and evaluated by examiners who designate a grade according to a simple scale. For 100 students to undergo this kind of examina­tion can take an entire day and require up to 20 examiners and assis­tants. 


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