By Hansen C. Bow, PhD, third-year medical student, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
About two years ago, Jon Dattilo, Andrea Jonas, and I started talking about how we could more effectively study our preclinical material. Both Jon and Andrea are classmates of mine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. We noticed that among our peers, studying mainly consisted of highlighting texts or PowerPoint slides, making outlines, or writing summaries. We recognized that these study methods were static–our review before tests would basically involve rereading the materials without any form of substantive interaction with what we were studying. We also noticed that small groups of students would get together and quiz each other before the section exams–a dynamic and interactive study method but one that is inefficient with large groups of people.
Based on these observations, we decided to take a different approach to studying. Instead of the usual highlighting and outlining, we created question and answer sets that related to each organ system block in the Genes to Society basic science course. We describe this process in more detail in our June article in Academic Medicine. Building on the capabilities of Google Drive spreadsheets, we created these lists in such a way that changes and additions could be instantaneously viewed by anyone with a link to the spreadsheet. By sharing these resources with our entire medical school class, we worked together with a community of our peers to create, edit, and provide commentary on over 16,000 question and answer sets. From a brief survey, we learned that about half of our class used the resources. We also found that the average test scores for our class rose compared to those for the previous class (who didn’t have access to the question and answer sets). We hope that our novel question and answer sets and flashcard program will serve as a model for collaborative learning.
Click on the images of our question and answer sets and flashcards below for more information.