Immediate detailed feedback to test-enhanced learning: an effective online educational tool

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Publication details

Wojcikowski, K & Kirk, LA 2013, 'Immediate detailed feedback to test-enhanced learning: an effective online educational tool ', Medical Teacher, vol. 35, no. 11, pp. 915-919.

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Background: Test-enhanced learning has gained popularity because it is an effective way to increase retention of knowledge; provided the student receives the correct answer soon after the test is taken.

Aim: To determine whether detailed feedback provided to test-enhanced learning questions is an effective online educational tool for improving performance on complex biomedical information exams.

Methods: A series of online multiple choice tests were developed to test knowledge of biomedical information that students were expected to know after each patient-case. Following submission of the student answers, one cohort (n = 52) received answers only while the following year, a second cohort (n = 51) received the answers with detailed feedback explaining why each answer was correct or incorrect.

Results: Students in both groups progressed through the series of online tests with little assessor intervention. Students receiving the answers along with the explanations within their feedback performed significantly better in the final biomedical information exam than those students receiving correct answers only.

Conclusions: This pilot study found that the detailed feedback to test-enhanced learning questions is an important online learning tool. The increase in student performance in the complex biomedical information exam in this study suggests that detailed feedback should be investigated not only for increasing knowledge, but also be investigated for its effect on retention and application of knowledge.

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