Faculty & Staff Publications - Public Safety

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Background: Paramedic programs use formative assessments to determine cognitive competency. Understanding the number of failed units as a probability of passing the summative exam will allow programs to set additional benchmarks. The purpose of this study was to determine whether failure in formative exams determines success on a summative exam.

Methods: Formative and summative scores from 2011 - 2016 for paramedic students with accounts in Fisdap, an Internet-based administrative database, were retrospectively reviewed for the following criteria: provided consent for research, completed all six formative (unit) examinations, and completed a summative (comprehensive) examination. Analyses were performed with Pearson correlations and linear regression.

Results: A total of 1,406 student records were included based on inclusion criteria. Correlation with each formative and the summative examination were all significant, p <0.001: Cardiology 0.597; Airway 0.571; Medical 0.571; Trauma 0.566; Ob/Pediatrics 0.549; Operations 0.495. The cardiology exam was shown to have a moderate correlation on summative performance, whereas the operations exam had the weakest correlation. The number of formative examination failures was a significant predictor of the probability of passing the summative examination, t(1405) - -31.02 p<0.001. Zero failed unit examinations yielded a 100% probability of passing. Three failed formative exams yielded a 60.4% probability. Four failed attempts yielded a 44.8% probability. Failure of all six formative exams yielded a 13.4% probability of passing the Paramedic Readiness Exam Version 3.

Conclusion: Not all formative examinations hold the same predictive power on the probability of passing a summative examination. Each had their own correlation value. Students who did not fail formative examinations have a 100% likelihood of passing the summative examination.

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