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Exam questions

ctfaulkn at utkvx.utk.edu ctfaulkn at utkvx.utk.edu
Wed May 11 08:01:51 EST 1994

>In article <2qqgt9$5r2 at threed.uchc.edu>,
>T. V. Rajan, M.D., Ph.D. <rajan at neuron.uchc.edu> wrote:
>>  I teach parasitology to medical students and one of the most
>>difficult tasks is to set new multiple choice questions each year. 

>In Article <2qqtmu$c3p at charm.magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu>
>ppappas at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Peter W Pappas) replied:
>an easy solution to this problem, namely DON'T ask multiple choice questions
> use essay questions (or short answer questions).  This solution has a 
>secondary benefit; if the questions are written well, the students actually 
>have to "think" about the answer and may have to "integrate" facts.  Such 
>tests are more difficult and time-consuming to grade, but isn't that what we
>get paid for(just like making questions for our own examinations)?

I am in complete agreement with your approach to testing. After all, isn't
the purpose of our instruction aimed at getting the students to "think" and
apply the knowledge they have gained in the lectures and lab excercises? Dr.
Patton has been using the case history approach quite effectively in our vet
parasit courses.  The students are given a case, or necropsy results and
expected to figure out the etioloic agent, and make intelligent comments on
lifecycle biology, therapeautic regimen, and prevention recommendations. This
approach requires that they have a command of all the info traditionally tested
via multiple choice, but they apply it toward a concrete problem that they will
probably confront sometime in their professional life.  In general we believe
that our students are learning more parasitology from take home excercises like
those described above than they did when they were tested with the "in class MC
approach" . At least it appears that they have retained more of the basics when
we see them in their clinical year.  This year the students in the Epi-Pub
Health course were asked to design 2 brochures on 2 zoonotic parasites for 
client education. In the brochure they were expected to define the zoonotic
significance of the parasite, tell how people and their animals become
infected, and how to prevent or manage the infections. Overall, the results
were quite good. But importantly, they demonstrated that they were able to
integrate the information from their lectures. I'm sure some if not all were
disapointed that they had studied to memorize the details of "thick shelled
eggs with single cell" and "prepatent period of 28 days", rather than the big
picture of zoonotic importance.  As it turns out, it didn't matter much becuase
they had a good foundation in the basics and were able to generalize from

	As pointed out, such tests (or practicals) are harder and more
time consuming to grade, but doesn't that come with the territory ?

CT Faulkner, Univ of TN, Knoxville

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