Background: Student participation is important for the success of active learning strategies, but participation is often linked to the level of preparation. At our institution, we use two types of active learning activities, a modified case-based learning exercise called active learning groups (ALG) and team-based learning (TBL). These strategies have different assessment and incentive structures for participation. Non-cognitive skills are assessed in ALG using a subjective five-point Likert scale. In TBL, assessment of individual student preparation is based on a multiple choice quiz conducted at the beginning of each session. Methods: We studied first-year medical student participation and performance in ALG and TBL as well as performance on course final examinations. Results: Student performance in TBL, but not in ALG, was strongly correlated with final examination scores. Additionally, in students who performed in the upper 33rd percentile on the final examination, there was a positive correlation between final examination performance and participation in TBL and ALG. This correlation was not seen in students who performed in the lower 33rd percentile on the final examinations. Conclusions: Our results suggest that assessments of medical knowledge during active learning exercises could supplement non-cognitive assessments and could be good predictors of performance on summative examinations.
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