Does the Proportion of Marks for Wet Laboratories Affect the Overall Mark, Grade, and Failure Rates?


  • Sheila Doggrell School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Griffith University, QLD, Australia



Students have higher marks in programs with a higher proportion of marks allocated to ongoing assessment (tutorials, assignments) than exams.  However, there has been little attention to how the allocation of marks to wet laboratories affects the academic performance of students in university courses.  The aim of this study was to analyse how the allocation of marks to examination and wet-laboratory-related assessment affected the performance of students in a biochemistry course.  The students were from four programs: pharmacy, biomedical science, medical laboratory science, and nutrition. The methods were (i) comparing the marks for the exam and laboratories, (ii) determining any association between these marks and academic outcomes by regression line analysis, and (iii) undertaking modelling to determine the effects of changing the allocation of marks on passing and failing rates. Overall, and for each cohort of students, the results were similar.  Students who completed the course had much lower marks in the exam than in the laboratories.  Regression line analysis of the marks in the exam versus laboratories showed (a) a poor line fit and (b) the correlation coefficient was moderate.  A high percentage of students passed the course (90%).  Modelling showed that increasing the marks for the exam decreased the number of students passing the course to as few as 51%.  Thus, the allocation of marks to wet laboratories can have a major effect on the percentage of students who pass courses.  The question of whether students who fails exams should pass courses/programs needs to be given further consideration.






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