Author: Clare Morgan, Edward Dudley, Nigel Francis, Paula Row, Colin Restall and Ricardo Del Sol Abascal
It has been reported that repeated testing during a teaching period is a better tool for enhancing learning compared to teaching followed by subsequent examinations. Frequent testing during teaching also has the benefit that students efforts are more evenly distributed rather than intensively condensed into a period immediately prior to examination. During the 2nd year of our Biochemistry and Genetics degree schemes, students were previously taught three 10 credit modules related to experimental techniques currently utilised within the field. All these modules were assessed by examination. During curriculum review, these three modules were condensed, forming a single 30 credit module, “Techniques in Molecular Biology” (PM-253). It was decided, during the review period, that the module would be better assessed via six online tests (with randomised question assignment and a limited time window for completion). Blackboard tests were created and implemented evenly throughout the 10 week teaching block over which the module was taught. The module average for this combined module was higher than that of the previously examined module with a lower coefficient of variation. Student feedback confirmed that students felt that they had learned the material more successfully as a result of frequent testing as opposed to intensive revision prior to a one off exam.