Student authored and critiqued multiple choice questions benefit examination performance in anatomy – a pilot study

Paul M Rea, John D McClure


PeerWise is an online system in which students create, answer, rate and discuss each others multiple choice questions (MCQs). This system was trialed during a five week Student Selected Component (SSC) in anatomy for third year medical students. Participation was on a voluntary basis and did not contribute to the final examination mark. Of the 52 students enrolled, 39 (75%) registered to use PeerWise and created a bank of 38 questions. Some students wrote several questions and others none. We found that of those students who created one or more questions, they scored higher marks in the examination than those who did not (p = 0.001 for percentage attained in examination). For those who created at least one question, the score increased by around 14%, although only slightly less than one-fifth of the participants submitted questions. In addition, submitting more than one question did not correlate with improved examination score (p = 0.922). Although all registered participants answered the majority of the generated questions, no correlation was shown between improved examination performance and the numbers of questions answered (p = 0.763 for examination score). Although this is a pilot study, and participation is small, it does have some interesting preliminary results. We have shown that students who write and, to a lesser extent comment on questions in PeerWise, score higher marks in the final examination. This could be related to higher cognitive level engagement with the course material encouraged by the use of PeerWise.

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