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Challenging students to formulate written questions: a randomized controlled trial to assess learning effects.

Olde Bekkink M, Donders AR, Kooloos JG, de Waal RM, Ruiter DJ - BMC Med Educ (2015)

Bottom Line: In female students, this was only 0.1 point higher (p = 0.75).Formulating and prioritizing an extra written question during small-group work seems to exert a positive learning effect on male students.This is an interesting approach to improve learning in male students, as they generally tend to perform less well than their female colleagues.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Anatomy, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Marleen.OldeBekkink@radboudumc.nl.

ABSTRACT

Background: Underutilization of dialogue among students during small-group work is a threat to active meaningful learning. To encourage small-group learning, we challenged students to generate written questions during a small-group work session. As gender differences have been shown to affect learning, these were also inventoried.

Methods: Prospective randomized study during a bachelor General Pathology course including 459 (bio) medical students, 315 females and 144 males. The intervention was to individually generate an extra written question on disease mechanisms, followed by a selection, by each student group, of the two questions considered to be most relevant. These selected questions were open for discussion during the subsequent interactive lecture. Outcome measure was the score on tumour pathology (range 1-10) on the course examination; the effect of gender was assessed.

Results: The mean score per student was 7.2 (intervention) and 6.9 (control; p = 0.22). Male students in the intervention group scored 0.5 point higher than controls (p = 0.05). In female students, this was only 0.1 point higher (p = 0.75).

Conclusions: Formulating and prioritizing an extra written question during small-group work seems to exert a positive learning effect on male students. This is an interesting approach to improve learning in male students, as they generally tend to perform less well than their female colleagues.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Study design including the intervention and control arms. *Number of students excluded because they did not participate in the formal examination (n = 15).
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Fig1: Study design including the intervention and control arms. *Number of students excluded because they did not participate in the formal examination (n = 15).

Mentions: At the start of the SGW, the tutor invited the students to formulate an extra written question related to the topic of tumour pathology. It was stressed that this should be a deepening question on disease mechanisms and not mere factual knowledge. The students were instructed to think about the extra question during the SGW. At the end of the SGW, the students individually wrote down at least one of their questions, and immediately afterwards the two most relevant questions per SGW were selected after a short plenary discussion. The intervention (writing the question followed by the plenary discussion) lasted for a maximum of 10 minutes. Participation was on a voluntary basis and written informed consent was obtained. The students were invited, on a voluntary basis, to discuss the selected questions during the subsequent interactive lecture that was held the next day. Whether or not the students actually did raise the questions during the interactive lecture was not controlled for. In the control groups, the usual task-driven discussions on tumour pathology lasted until the end of the SGW session. The total exposure time to the topic was similar in the intervention and control groups (see Figure 1).Figure 1


Challenging students to formulate written questions: a randomized controlled trial to assess learning effects.

Olde Bekkink M, Donders AR, Kooloos JG, de Waal RM, Ruiter DJ - BMC Med Educ (2015)

Study design including the intervention and control arms. *Number of students excluded because they did not participate in the formal examination (n = 15).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4404132&req=5

Fig1: Study design including the intervention and control arms. *Number of students excluded because they did not participate in the formal examination (n = 15).
Mentions: At the start of the SGW, the tutor invited the students to formulate an extra written question related to the topic of tumour pathology. It was stressed that this should be a deepening question on disease mechanisms and not mere factual knowledge. The students were instructed to think about the extra question during the SGW. At the end of the SGW, the students individually wrote down at least one of their questions, and immediately afterwards the two most relevant questions per SGW were selected after a short plenary discussion. The intervention (writing the question followed by the plenary discussion) lasted for a maximum of 10 minutes. Participation was on a voluntary basis and written informed consent was obtained. The students were invited, on a voluntary basis, to discuss the selected questions during the subsequent interactive lecture that was held the next day. Whether or not the students actually did raise the questions during the interactive lecture was not controlled for. In the control groups, the usual task-driven discussions on tumour pathology lasted until the end of the SGW session. The total exposure time to the topic was similar in the intervention and control groups (see Figure 1).Figure 1

Bottom Line: In female students, this was only 0.1 point higher (p = 0.75).Formulating and prioritizing an extra written question during small-group work seems to exert a positive learning effect on male students.This is an interesting approach to improve learning in male students, as they generally tend to perform less well than their female colleagues.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Anatomy, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Marleen.OldeBekkink@radboudumc.nl.

ABSTRACT

Background: Underutilization of dialogue among students during small-group work is a threat to active meaningful learning. To encourage small-group learning, we challenged students to generate written questions during a small-group work session. As gender differences have been shown to affect learning, these were also inventoried.

Methods: Prospective randomized study during a bachelor General Pathology course including 459 (bio) medical students, 315 females and 144 males. The intervention was to individually generate an extra written question on disease mechanisms, followed by a selection, by each student group, of the two questions considered to be most relevant. These selected questions were open for discussion during the subsequent interactive lecture. Outcome measure was the score on tumour pathology (range 1-10) on the course examination; the effect of gender was assessed.

Results: The mean score per student was 7.2 (intervention) and 6.9 (control; p = 0.22). Male students in the intervention group scored 0.5 point higher than controls (p = 0.05). In female students, this was only 0.1 point higher (p = 0.75).

Conclusions: Formulating and prioritizing an extra written question during small-group work seems to exert a positive learning effect on male students. This is an interesting approach to improve learning in male students, as they generally tend to perform less well than their female colleagues.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus