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Student Generated Multiple Choice Questions

A Novel Student-Led Approach to Multiple-Choice Question Generation and Online Database Creation, with Targeted Clinician Input. Benjamin HL et al.; Teaching and Learning in Medicine 2015:. 27(2): 182-188.

Reviewed by Molly Rideout

What was the study question? Will a medical student-driven effort to create a MCQ question bank be effective in producing challenging and accurate study materials?

How was the study done? Final year Medical students at Cardiff University School of Medicine (UK)created MCQs using a 5-stage approach:

  1. Students wrote questions
  2. Questions peer-reviewed by other students.
  3. Physicians reviewed questions.
  4. Questions piloted among students.
  5. Questions analyzed for quality

What were the results?
Students generated a bank of 200 high quality, MCQ’s accessed frequently, and reported as a useful study aid. Students who wrote questions reported learning from the experience, an unexpected benefit. After the question database became available online, more than 2800 tests were taken in 3 months reflecting wide acceptance. Evaluation forms demonstrated that question writing and review was useful for exam preparation. Peer review groups also found it an excellent opportunity for practicing presentation skills.

What are the implications of these findings?
This student-led program was successful in creating a MCQ database as well as teaching students question writing skills.. If other centers created similar question banks, as the authors propose, a massive open-source question bank for students created by students could become available. The success of an expansion would depend on student involvement and interest, and likely require strong mentorship. An alternative question bank generated by students-- Peer-Wise--lacks clinician input and statistical analysis; question quality may not be of as high caliber as those in this study.

Editor’s note: Student involvement in the creation and refinement of the questions was in and of itself a significant learning experience (RR).

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