Background The number of medical students in the United Kingdom is increasing. An increase of medical students will invariably impact on palliative care institutions required to organise teaching sessions for students. Accordingly, novel studies have previously highlighted the educational benefits of peer-led learning and peer-marking of examinations. However, limited data exists about the educational value of students writing their own exam questions and sharing these with other students.
Aim To evaluate the potential for medical students to learn about palliative care through the process of writing examination questions.
Methods Fourth year medical students on a palliative medicine rotation were invited to write a short answer exam question in a similar format to the official examination run by the medical school at the University of Liverpool. Questions, selected by the teaching co-ordinator, were based around topics outlined in the palliative medicine syllabus. The questions were checked for accuracy and applicability by the co-ordinator and then distributed to students. The answers to the student generated questions were discussed in a feedback forum at the end of the rotation.
Findings From a possible sample of 36 participants, 20 students took part in the exercise. All students agreed the exercise was beneficial to their learning and was in-keeping with the problem-based learning (PBL) medical curriculum. When asked whether the task was too much additional work 18 (90%) disagreed and 2(10%) agreed. Eight (40%) of the students felt more confident in passing the official medical school examinations while 12 (60%) were not sure. Overall the students enjoyed the exercise with 19 (95%) indicating they were keen to repeat the exercise in the future.
Conclusion The evaluation of the Exam Writing task demonstrates that such exercises may be popular with medical undergraduates and could complement the delivery of palliative care teaching.
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