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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 90-93

Student participation in assessment: A strategy for improving learning


1 Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Microbiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Physiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission03-Jan-2019
Date of Decision16-Mar-2019
Date of Acceptance26-Aug-2019
Date of Web Publication25-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Surekha R Kamath
Department of Physiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdmimsu.jdmimsu_2_19

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  Abstract 


Background: It is well known that framing of questions can be a valuable learning exercise. The designing of questions requires knowledge and understanding of the subjects being taught. We designed a study to improve the student understanding of the basic human functions, in the physiology class, whereby 1st-year medical students were asked to create multiple true-false (MTF) questions, based on their learning objectives. Aim: The present study was undertaken to find the effectiveness of question construction as a strategy for learning. Methods: The current study was conducted on 1st-year medical students (n = 222) of Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India. The study was conducted in one of the muscle physiology revision classes, where students were asked to prepare a set of MTF questions. Following the activity, the questions prepared by the students were collected and analyzed by the subject experts. A questionnaire with ten questions, on a 4-point Likert scale was administered to the student groups to understand perceptions of this activity. The pre- and postclass tests were conducted and scores were computed and analyzed. The comparison of scores was done using Student's t-test. Results: The MTF questions prepared by students showed that the majority of the MTF questions tested knowledge (23.5%) and comprehension (45%). However, 20% of the MTF questions were in the application level and 11.5% of the questions produced had ability of testing higher-order cognitive skills. The student feedback regarding the construction of MTF questions revealed that activity helped them in better understanding of muscle physiology (70%), increased their critical thinking skills (62.5%), and helped them to revise the muscle physiology in a short duration of time (85%). There was no statistical significance between the pre- and postclass test scores. However, 115 (52%) students scored better in posttest than pretest. Conclusion: Our current study results revealed that the interest and active participation of 1st-year medical students in question setting was proved to be an activity which encouraged active learning. This student learning activity is adaptable to all systems in physiology and to other subject specialties.

Keywords: Active learning, framing questions, student learning activity


How to cite this article:
Hande H S, D'Souza JS, Kamath SR. Student participation in assessment: A strategy for improving learning. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ 2019;14:90-3

How to cite this URL:
Hande H S, D'Souza JS, Kamath SR. Student participation in assessment: A strategy for improving learning. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Dec 11];14:90-3. Available from: http://www.journaldmims.com/text.asp?2019/14/2/90/271548




  Introduction Top


It is well known that active learning strategies motivate the students to enhance their knowledge and understanding of a subject. Active learning is a quality form of education, closely related to inquiry-based learning, problem-based learning, and project-based learning, which are all approaches for learning.[1] Students learn and retain information more meaningfully when educators actively involve them in the learning process,[2] and this has been researched extensively. When students are engaged in more activities than just listening, they have shown better content retention, as cited in the literature.[3],[4]

Students working cooperatively in facilitated small groups can enhance not only theirs but also others' learning.[5] Evidence from student learning activities suggests that students studying cooperatively exhibit significantly better academic achievement.[6] The higher academic performance of the students in the cooperative learning condition indicates that cooperative learning is more effective than individualistic learning.[7] Solving multiple true-false (MTF) questions is a well-recognized method of testing the knowledge acquired in any subject. Construction of questions can be a valuable learning exercise. It has been reported that framing of questions enhances the recall for a studied text, while creating a more active and self-determined way of learning.[8] By creating questions, students were made to be engaged and actively participated in the activity as well. A question-writing exercise teaches the student to differentiate core areas of a subject that matter from those that are relatively nice to know areas. Hence, designing the questions is a good activity for students, which helps them to identify the core areas of a subject.[9] The design of MTF questions requires knowledge and understanding of the subjects being taught. To set a good quality question, greater knowledge is required when compared to answering the question. In the 1st-year medical curriculum, the subject knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry is vast and timebound. Hence, such student learning activities might enhance knowledge, understanding, and retention of these subjects. With these aspects in mind, we designed a study to improve the student understanding of the basic human functions, in the physiology class, whereby 1st-year medical students were asked to create MTF questions, based on their learning objectives. Thus, the present study was undertaken to find the effectiveness of question construction as a strategy for learning.


  Methods Top


The current study was conducted on undergraduate medical students (n = 222) of year 1 (batch 33) at Melaka Manipal Medical College (MMMC), Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India. At MMMC, the 1st-year curricula are divided into four blocks. The students had a total of 10 h of muscle physiology lecture class. After completing 8 h of teaching muscle physiology class, in the last 2 h of revision class, the present study was conducted in one of the muscle physiology revision classes of the first block. Before beginning of this student learning activity, a class test was conducted in physiology topics. The next class students were divided into groups of five and asked to prepare MTF questions by themselves. As students were freshers, guidelines for MTF question construction were explained to them before the activity. Each group had to prepare a set of MTF questions with a brief lead and four to five statements which could be true or false. Students were given 10 min for question preparation and discussion with peers. It took almost 2 h to complete the activity for the entire class of students. The MTF questions were presented by one member of each group to the entire class, and the answers were discussed. There were a total of forty MTF questions which were prepared by the forty teams. Following the activity, all the questions prepared by the students were collected, and only 27 good quality MTF questions were selected which were constructed free from flaws. These selected 27 MTF questions are then analyzed separately by two senior faculties from the department of physiology.

Following the completion of this activity, a prevalidated questionnaire with ten questions on a 4-point Likert scale was administered to the student groups to understand perceptions of this activity. The grading was done based on a Likert scale with Score 1 being strongly disagree to 4 being strongly agree. Data analysis was done using percentage and frequencies in Microsoft Excel. At the end of this activity, another class test was conducted. The pre- and posttest scores of the two class tests were statistically analyzed. The comparison of scores was done using Student's t-test. The mean and standard deviation were calculated.


  Results Top


In the present student activity, 1st-year medical students created 27 MTF questions which were analyzed by two assessors and categorized according to the 5-point rating scale. The results are shown in [Table 1]. The categorization of the MTF questions using Bloom's taxonomy showed that 11.5% of the questions produced had the ability of testing higher-order cognitive skills of analysis and synthesis.[10],[11] The majority of the MTF questions created by the students tested knowledge (23.5%) and comprehension (45%). However, 20% of the MTF questions were in the application level, indicating that the students have not only understood the subject but also applied it.
Table 1: Rating of multiple true-false questions constructed by the 1st-year medical students based on Bloom's taxonomy

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The student feedback after the activity regarding the construction of MTF questions is shown in [Table 2]. Seventy percent of the students felt that there was a better understanding of muscle physiology through question-making activity, whereas 72.5% opined that interaction among peers was promoted while making questions. About 62.5% of the students felt that this activity increased their critical thinking skills, and 65% of them felt that this activity helped them in reflecting the concepts of physiology. Although assessment is a driving tool for student learning, only 50% of the class felt that this activity might help them to get good marks in the class test and block examinations. Student learning activities play a role in revising the lecture topics; in according to this, 85% of the students agreed that our activity helped them to revise the muscle physiology that too in a short duration of time. Overall 70% of the class felt that this activity was fun and a helpful method of learning. Only 52.5% of them agreed that activity should be held more frequently. However, there were suggestions from the students that more topics should be given so that questions prepared by them would not be repetitive.
Table 2: Perceptions of students regarding the construction of multiple true-false questions

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The pre- and postclass tests scores are shown in [Table 3]. Both class tests conducted were of 40 marks each. Findings of our results revealed that 30.35 was the mean score of the students in the class test conducted before the activity (pretest) and 30.81 was the mean score of the students in the class test conducted following the activity (posttest). There was no statistical significance between the pre- and postclass test scores. However, 115 (52%) students scored better in posttest than pretest.
Table 3: Paired samples statistics of pre- and postclass test scores of the 1st-year medical students

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  Discussions Top


The interest and active participation of 1st-year medical students in question setting was proved to be an activity which encouraged active learning. This study reports on students' experiences which included opportunities for active engagement through cooperative learning activities. Our current study results revealed that this question setting activity helped them to learn and understand the course content and to maintain their interest and attention during the sessions. The results also indicated that students valued the cooperative learning tasks, particularly the variety of small group activities. This is in accordance to an earlier work done by Cavanagh and Michael in 2011.[12]

Categorization of MTF questions according to Bloom's taxonomy indicated that our students are capable of designing questions not only at recall level but also at understanding and analytical level. Although only a few MTF questions prepared by our students were of higher order cognitive skills (Bloom's taxonomy), this activity could be an important learning exercise as our 1st-year medical students were new to the assessment system. However, the time and knowledge required to construct a good quality question is more than to answer the same. We felt that question writing activity motivated our students to study along with lively discussions. Another similar study conducted for the students of clinical surgery showed that the construction of multiple-choice questions was a stimulus for learning.[11] More recently, Yu and Liu in their study have discussed the effects of question-posing as compared to question-answering.[13] The question-posing group had significantly higher cognitive abilities and metacognitive learning strategies. This is line with our study, wherein there was no statistical significance in the pre- and postclass test scores, but higher-order cognitive skills were demonstrated by the activity.

While framing MTF questions, the student has to thoroughly scrutinize the questions with respect to knowledge, understanding, and application which could be challenging yet stimulate learning.[14] It was, therefore, an idea to conduct this activity in small groups, so that discussion among the students can occur regarding the correctness of the questions, at the same time promoting teamwork. A number of studies show that cooperative learning promotes more positive attitudes toward learning the subject area as compared to competitive or individualistic learning.[15] The same study suggests that informal cooperative learning consists of having students work together to achieve a joint learning goal in temporary, ad hoc groups that last from a few minutes to one class period. A similar observation was made in our study.

Our students in their feedback similarly felt that this activity was fun and interesting along with gaining knowledge of the subject. This student learning activity is adaptable to all systems in physiology and to other subject specialties. However, the shortcomings of this activity were for the high-performing students who could not achieve more, and therefore, this activity may not be used for discriminating between high and low achievers. Another limitation was that all the MTF questions were not of higher-order thinking, and there were some errors in the construction as well because of which we did not use them in our assessments. In spite of these drawbacks, the authors of this article would like to suggest that creating MTF questions is a good student learning activity.


  Conclusion Top


The interest and active participation of 1st-year medical students in question paper setting was agreed on as an interesting group exercise. The group activity created better student engagement, and the MTF questions constructed by students were fair enough to test knowledge and comprehension. This student learning activity is adaptable to all systems in physiology and to other subject specialties.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Anderson R, Anderson R, Davis KM, Linnell N, Prince C, Razmov V. Supporting active learning and example based instruction with classroom technology. ACM SIGCSE Bull 2007;39:69-73.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Smith KA, Sheppard SD, Johnson DW, Johnson RT. Pedagogies of engagement: Classroom-based practices. J Eng Educ 2005;94:87-100.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Silberman M. Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach any Subject. Des Moines, IA: Prentice-Hall; 1996.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Bonwell C. Building a supportive climate for active learning. Natl Teach Learn Forum 1996;6:4-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Smith KA. Cooperative learning: Making “group work.” New Directions for Teach Learn 1996;67:71 82.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Faust JL, Paulson DR. Active learning in the college classroom. J Excellence Coll Teach 1998;9:3-24.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Hsiung CM. The effectiveness of cooperative learning. J Eng Educ 2012;101:119-37.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Brown IW. To learn is to teach is to create the final exam. Coll Teach 1991;39:150-3.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Sircar SS, Tandon OP. Involving students in question writing: A unique feedback with fringe benefits. Am J Physiol 1999;277:S84-91.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Bloom BS, Engelhart MD, Furst EJ, Hill WH, Krathwohl DR. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1: Cognitive domain (2nd Ed.) Addison Wesley Publishing Company, Boston. 1984.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Palmer E, Devitt P. Constructing multiple choice questions as a method for learning. Ann Acad Med Singapore 2006;35:604-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Cavanagh M. Students' experiences of active engagement through cooperative learning activities in lectures. Active Learn Higher Educ 2011;12:23-33.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Yu FY, Liu YH. The comparative effects of student question-posing and question-answering strategies on promoting college students' academic achievement, cognitive and metacognitive strategies use. J Educ Psychol 2008;31:25-52.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Jobs A, Twesten C, Göbel A, Bonnemeier H, Lehnert H, Weitz G. Question-writing as a learning tool for students – Outcomes from curricular exams. BMC Med Educ 2013;13:89.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Johnson DW, Johnson DT, Smith KA. Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom. 2nd ed. Edina, Minn: Interaction Book Company; 1998.  Back to cited text no. 15
    



 
 
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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