Chemical Pathology Quizzes on Moodle

A series of voluntary quizzes; three in chemical pathology topics for 2nd years, and seven in chemical pathology and endocrinology topics for 3rd year students; to practice linking basic endocrinology and chemical pathology teaching to clinical situations.

Questions from Thyroid Function Quiz

Who was involved?

Associate Professor Peter Schwartz and Dr David Markie (Pathology Dept, DSM) devised the quizzes.
Dr Phil Blyth (eLearning in Medicine, Faculty of Medicine), who assisted with preparing the quizzes for uploading to Moodle and with getting the analysis of responses off Moodle.

Why did I / We develop this piece of eLearning?

After marking the 2011 ELM2 and ELM3 final examinations we were concerned that students had not applied taught concepts as well as we had expected.

We teach chemical pathology and endocrinology in small group, case-based classes. The teaching focuses almost entirely on the application of basic concepts to clinical situations. This approach is reflected, exclusively, in our final examination questions. We wondered if the poorer student performance was related to a lack of practice at applying the material.

In previous years we had offered computer-based tests, using similar question formats to the final examination, and found that the students had fewer problems with our final examination questions.

We resurrected these older quiz questions, updated and refined them to align with current teaching; then, with help, uploaded them to Moodle as a voluntary activity. Students complete a quiz to test their ability to apply their class learning and practice the skills we want them to develop.

Student gains:

Usage:
The quizzes certainly got a lot of use, particularly in the run-up to final exams!

60-75% of ELM2 made at least  one attempt on each of their three quizzes.
80-86% of ELM3 made at least one attempt on each of their four endocrine module quizzes.

Exam outcomes:
The exam had three endocrine questions and 265 students sat the exam. Out of the just under 800 scores, we gave 71 failing scores.
Of these 71 fails, 33 went to students (38) who had completed NONE or almost none of the Moodle quizzes. The other 38 failing scores were scattered among the 227 students who had completed most or all of the quizzes, at least once for each quiz.

Conclusion:
The quizzes provided useful practice (as we intended) for most students.
At this stage, we have no evidence to answer the question whether those students who didn’t take advantage of the quizzes and also did poorly in the examination would have done better had they chosen to practice by completing the quizzes.

The best thing about developing this piece of eLearning was:

Having this useful resource available to the students.
Seeing evidence that the quizzes probably did give the students opportunities to practice their skills, as we had hoped.

The Challenges:

Getting the quizzes up and running over a short time interval. We hadn’t even thought about having the quizzes until the first semester of teaching in 2012 was already well underway.
It also took a lot of time to resurrect and modify the old quizzes that were the basis of this initiative. However having done that work once – it is now available for future years.

Tools / Resources used in this initiative:

Our old quiz questions (updated and modified).
Phill Blyth’s skills at putting them into the appropriate format for Moodle.

Want to know more about this project?
Contact Peter Schwartz or David Markie in the Pathology Dept, DSM.

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