PeerWise: Creation of a programme wide student built database of practice exam questions for medical students

Dr Clare Guilding, Dean of Academic Affairs (Medicine)

Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia  (Case Study from School of Medical Education, Newcastle Campus)

Medical Sciences

What did you do?

Established courses the online quizzing platform PeerWise for medical students

Who is involved?

All stages of the MBBS (medicine) degree programme.

How do you do it?

Students always want as many practice exam questions as possible, but it is hard for individual lecturers to generate the number and range of questions that they desire. I decided to harness the power of the student body and asked students to write their own exam questions, which I would manage and distribute.

As I said to the Stage 2 student in the pilot year, if each of them wrote only one question they would have 220 question to revise from come the exam period. I provided guidance on how to write good single best answer (SBA – the main format of written exam we use) questions, using guidance I had written for MBBS lecturers.

In 2013 I built an online interactive practice exam question website using in-house software. However, it was very time consuming for me to upload all the questions and manage, so the following year I set up PeerWise courses for all years of the MBBS degree. PeerWise is a free online quizzing platform that allows the students to author and answer MCQs, rate the quality of other students’ contributions as well as discuss content. Students can self-assess their own performance and see how they are doing in comparison to their cohort. Each module has its own code, I create IDs for everyone and provide continued advice on how to write questions, explanations, and how to get the most from the site.

Why do you do it?

Assessment drives learning, and students are particularly keen to engage with formative assessment that reflects their summative exams (e.g. SBAs/MCQs) and that they can do in their own time via e-assessment. On the medicine degree programme we give out no past papers, so students do not have the opportunity to use this as a mode of revision. Some students used doing past exam papers as a promnent revision tool when doing A’levels and GCSEs. They would like access to, if not the exam papers, practice exam questions.

Does it work?

PeerWise was introduced to MB BS students in the first semester of the 2014/2015 academic year. In the following three years 1528 students engaged with the site, students authored 3922 questions and these were answered a total of 719,271 times.

Contact Details

Dr Clare Guilding, Dean of Academic Affairs (Medicine)



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