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Use of multiple choice questions during lectures helps medical students improve their performance in written formative assessment in physiology

Madhu Bhatt, Shelka Dua.

Abstract
Background: Multiple choice questions (MCQs) play a pivotal role in various types of assessment in medical schools, due to the ease with which these can be administered and evaluated. Although primarily employed for assessment, the direct role of MCQ-assisted teaching learning (MATeL) may be explored among teachers and students as an aid to learning.

Aims and Objectives: The present study endeavors to evaluate how MATeL helps students improve their performance and to explore the correlation between MCQ and short answer questions (SAQ) performance of students on a given topic of instruction in physiology.

Materials and Methods: For MATeL topics, a total of 25 MCQs, based on five specific learning objectives, were discussed with 94 students of the 1st year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery course, and in-depth evaluation of each of the correct choices was done during the lectures. For the non-MATeL topics, the students were advised to read up the topic before the lecture which was followed by an exhaustive discussion on the same. At the end of the lecture series, a formative written assessment was carried, and the MCQ and SAQ scores were analyzed for each of the students. Results: Mean scores for both SAQs and MCQs was significantly higher in MATeL than the non-MATeL topics (SAQs 5.31 vs. 4.36, t = 2.5; MCQs 7.18 vs. 6.68, t = 5.23). There was a good correlation between total MCQ and total SAQ scores for the students (r = 0.34, P < 0.05, 95% confidence interval: 0.15-0.51). For the non-MATeL topics, SAQ scores correlated with the MCQ scores but not for the MATeL topics. Students show improved scores in their formative written assessment when the lectures are assisted with use of MCQs, than when MCQs are not employed before and during the lecture.

Conclusions: MCQs may form a vital component during teaching when delivering important concepts, and their use may not be restricted to the traditional role during the assessment.

Key words: Multiple Choice Questions; Teaching Learning; Formative Assessment



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