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Comparison of online test between extremely short answer and single best answer of traditional Chinese medicine students in pharmacology course for more than one year

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Document pages: 10 pages

Abstract: Single choice (SC) is a classic tool used in medical examinations at all levels of education. In contrast, very short answers (VSA) may require better a priori knowledge and deeper learning than SC, and VSA should make tips and guesses impossible. Therefore, in the basic pharmacology course, we hope to directly compare the SC and VSA formats at the end of the course and one year later. Medical students (n   =   211) underwent formative online testing. They were randomly divided into two groups (group A and group B). Participants in group A were first given 15 single choice (one fifth) pharmacological questions, followed by 15 very short answer questions (open questions, online answers, semi-automatic evaluation). A very similar question about leaning objectives but in opposite order were given to group B. After one year, about half of students from group A were again given the very same questions (AA) or the opposite questions (AB). Likewise, group B was again tested with the opposite questions (BA) or the same (BB). The SC questions in groups A, AA, AB, B, BA, and BB were in sum easier to answer than the corresponding VSA questions. Repeating the test after one year with the same students increased retention of right answers by about 1.5 points. In summary, direct comparison questions in the VSA format are more difficult for our students to answer than questions in the SC format, conceivably because cueing and guessing are eliminated. Knowledge retention is present by repeating the very same examination format online. Retention of knowledge is higher when starting with VSA (group B) both for a subsequent SC format or a VSA format. These data would argue for more use of the VSA format at least in pharmacology examinations.

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