NURS 338-50: Lifespan Pathophysiology

Eve S. Hiatt, PhD, MSN ARNP-BC

Student Generated Test Questions

Like many educators, Dr. Eve Hiatt has experienced first-hand the challenges of infusing critical thinking questions into a content-heavy course. In her NURS 338-50 course, content is critical, but so is student understanding and application of that content. As Hiatt explains, "I needed something that would fit into the rigid course structure, while enhancing learning in a new way." To add to the challenge, this course was offered in an online environment with students spread out around the region.

As part of the i2a Institute Part-time Faculty Cohort for 2011, Hiatt took advantage of the resources at hand and created an additional assignment for her students. As part of their work for the weekly unit on Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary Function, she asked her students to create a "moderately difficult" exam question about a disease they were assigned. "I thought it would be useful for the students to identify what they considered to be the most important or memorable content in a given unit of the course," said Hiatt.

Within the constraints of teaching a content-intensive course in an online course environment, I try to find creative ways to encourage my students to think about unifying concepts rather than to memorize fine details.

—Eve Hiatt

The question should focus on the most important concept or process related to their topic. The student then posted their question, correct answer, and references on the discussion board. To receive credit for a response that week, students were required to answer and critique at least one other student's question.

Students did well at identifying and writing exam questions about significant content, but she explains that the critiques of classmates "were for the most part lacking in depth, consisting mostly of praises, and suggesting that students were reluctant to point out errors."

Hiatt plans to continue improving the assignment with more direction given to the process of identifying what Gerald Nosich refers to as the "fundamental and powerful concepts" of the lesson and clarifying the instructions regarding question format.

Download example of assignment [PDF].

Learn more about part-time faculty projects…

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