Randomized study showing the benefit of medical study writing multiple choice questions on their learning
Jose Ignacio Herrero 1 2 3 , Felipe Lucena 4 , Jorge Quiroga 4 5 6
Background: Writing multiple choice questions may be a valuable tool for medical education. We asked medical students to generate multiple choice questions and studied its effect on their exams. We hypothesized that students generating questions would improve their learning.
Methods: We randomized students in their second and third years at the School of Medicine to write four multiple choice questions on two different sections of General Pathology (Immunopathology and Electrolyte and acid-base status; second year) and Pathophysiology (Blood and Respiratory system; third year). We analyzed whether students writing questions on a section had better results in the exam test in that section than the rest of the students.
Results: Seventy-five (38.2%) students wrote questions for General Pathology and 109 (47.6%) for Pathophysiology. Students that wrote questions obtained significantly better results in the exam than those who did not. In General Pathology, students who wrote questions about Immunopathology obtained better results in that section than those who wrote questions about the other section (5.13 versus 3.86 over 10; P = 0.03). In Pathophysiology, the differences between both groups were not significant, but students who wrote good questions about Respiratory system obtained better results in that section than those who wrote good questions about Blood (6.07 versus 4.28 over 10; P = 0.015). Male students wrote good questions in Pathophysiology more frequently than female students (28.1% versus 10.4%; P = 0.02).
Conclusions: The writing of multiple choice questions by medical students may improve their learning. A gender effect may also influence this intervention. Future investigations should refine its potential role in teaching.