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Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2007 Jan;35(1):45-8. doi: 10.1002/bmb.3.

Formulation of questions followed by small group discussion as a revision exercise at the end of a teaching module in biochemistry.

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Department of Biochemistry, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Pondicherry 605 006, India.


Undergraduate medical students get fewer opportunities to clarify their doubts and to reinforce their understanding of concepts after lecture classes. There is no information available in the literature that addresses the question of usefulness of prior formulation of questions followed by small group discussion by undergraduate medical students as a revision exercise. The purpose of this work is to evaluate the effect of formulation of objective type short answer questions by undergraduate medical students followed by small group discussion on the answers of the questions prepared as a revision exercise on their understanding of the topic "amino acid metabolism" and the retention of the gain after 15 days. At the end of a regular teaching module on the topic of amino acid metabolism, undergraduate medical students were asked to prepare 16 objective type short answer questions on the various aspects of the topic as homework. Small group discussions involving 12-14 students in each group and lasting one hour were conducted on the questions and answers prepared by them in the presence of a faculty member. The effects on low, medium, and high achievers were evaluated with multiple choice questions by pre-test and post-tests before and after the group discussion. Formulation of questions was highly effective in improving understanding on the topic for all the students. The overall mean post-test scores after the formulation of questions (12.6) and after the small group discussion that followed (14.7) were significantly higher than the mean pre-test score (8.5). For high achievers, the gain from formulation of questions was higher than the gain from small group discussion. Small group discussion was highly effective for all students. The gain from small group discussion was higher among the low and medium achievers in comparison with the high achievers. The gain from the exercise was retained among the low, medium, and high achievers after 15 days. In conclusion, formulation of short answer questions followed by small group discussion on the answers of the questions prepared by the undergraduate medical students is an effective revision exercise for improving their understanding on a selected topic.

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