Sharon K. Park, Pharm.D., BCPS Notre Dame of Maryland University
Courses designed to teach how to appropriately evaluate biomedical literature are absolutely necessary in pharmacy education. However, one of the most challenging parts of teaching it in a large classroom setting and assessing the skills in literature evaluation is that the instructors have a hard time determining how much the students actually learned vs. they seem to know. The true level of students’ knowledge and skills does not become apparent until they are on their clinical rotations, attempting to do a journal club alone for the first time.
As with any other educational movements, an effective method of teaching this skill set is increasing the amount of time that the students actively verbalize their thought processes. However, unless the course is tied to a skills lab, it is time-consuming and resource-intensive to exercise journal-club-like activity in the didactic setting. One way to solve this problem is to have the students talk to one another and share their knowledge, and do this against time and in a competition with other students, in a small group.
In a literature evaluation course with about 54 students, 13 groups were formed, based on the students’ preference. Each week for 5 consecutive weeks, the students were assigned a clinical trial to read and prepare for a group quiz which consisted of 10 multiple-choice, 4-option based questions using either Quizizz (quizizz.com). There are a few free online-based quiz platforms available including Kahoot! (getkahoot.com), Quizlet Live (quizlet.com/live), and Quizalize (quizalize.com), just to name a few. A few reviews comparing these platforms exist on the Internet and each has its own advantageous and unique features. Instructors now have a variety of platforms to choose for a small survey or a full-scale assessment on these sites. An example screenshot of one of the quizzes is shown here via Quizizz.
Student groups were asked to sit as a group and register with the quiz number to begin the quiz on one student’s computer. As they enter their answers, the Quizizz platform registers the progress including correct and incorrect response, ranking, and speed. The allowed time can be controlled for each question based on the difficulty. However, the groups are ranked also based on the time spent on answering the questions, and a majority of them spent less than 10 minutes to answer 10 questions, with the study articles available to them during the quiz.
Based on a short survey to determine if the students’ perceived the group quiz was more helpful at improving their skills and if the group quiz should continue to be offered, an overwhelming majority agreed that the activity was helpful and should continue in the future.
When using these online platforms for either a group or individual assessment, it is important to ensure that the questions are simple enough to be answered with a reasonable amount of time. In addition, the amount of time given to each group and each quiz should be consistent to deliver a fair assessment; some of the platforms (including Quizizz) do not limit or cut off the activity when the allotted time is gone. The number of students in each group should also be no more than three in order to increase meaningful participation among all group members.