|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 199-200
Role of quizzing in medical education
Unnikrishnan K Menon
Department of ENT, Amrita School of Medicine, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kochi, Kerala, India
|Date of Submission||08-May-2022|
|Date of Decision||18-May-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||21-May-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||29-Aug-2022|
Prof. Unnikrishnan K Menon
Department of ENT, Amrita School of Medicine, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, AIMS Ponekkara PO, Kochi - 682 041, Kerala
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Menon UK. Role of quizzing in medical education. J Med Evid 2022;3:199-200
X is a famous personality of the mid to late 19th century. His life and works have been studied by medical and art historians, who then diagnosed him with many possible conditions. These include: Depression, Bipolar disorder, Temporal lobe epilepsy, Meniere's disease, Schizophrenia, Lead poisoning. However, during his lifetime, X got no relief from his symptoms because mood stabilizers and antidepressants didn't exist, leading to self-inflicted bodily harm and finally, suicide. Identify X.
I shall let the readers chew on this for a while, before proceeding to the article.
Medical education, especially the Indian MBBS programme, has traditionally been infamous for the accent on rote studying, or 'mugging up', especially with regard to theoretical aspects. The names, definitions, endless lists of causes and differential diagnoses, are all the stuff of legend, and tragicomic mythmaking! Well, another realm of activity that has been burdened with the tag of 'mugging up' is that of quizzing. Sounds familiar? The hobby/game where the player would have read, and memorised random facts and/or trivia, only to spew them out on paper, or on stage, in response to questions that unsubtly ask for it! The downside lies in the need for remembering, reproducing, factual knowledge in toto.
Well, the way I have described, that analogy is not mistaken. But then, there are quizzes, and there are quizzes. Not all have to follow the same old template. Sample this: Who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2021? Or this: Which is the highest lake in the world? These are the straight shooter questions, requiring no real thought process, as it were; rather, just a reflex message from the hippocampus to the Broca's area, and out. This is akin to the medical student being asked (either in theory or viva) the name of a certain famous name or syndrome, without any clinical background in the question. Worse, it is also akin to some of the rounds in medical quizzes, where the participant has to identify some famous personality from a random image – which, in most cases, is a black-and-white photograph of a bearded Caucasian (generic appearance)!
Now, please go back to what I started this article with – an entire paragraph as a question! But look carefully, and read between the lines, and you are sure to find clues, which will lead you to the answer. The first two lines would tell you that X is likely to be a male artist, of the given time period. This in itself starts the process of 'differential diagnosis'. Then, the behavioural quirks of the said person can be guessed from the purported diseases. The last line should bring to mind the infamous incident of cutting off of his own ear, and then the suicide. Voila, none other than Vincent Van Gogh! So, that is how such quizzes work. Reading between the lines, lateral thinking and associating already known information – all these are combined to arrive at an answer that is otherwise a well-known entity.
At this juncture, let me clarify that I do not have in mind, the quiz as a mere teaching–learning (TL) tool in medical education. That is already a done thing, with many studies reporting benefits.,, These include 'healthy competition', 'feeling of fun, interest, enthusiasm and curiosity', 'learning process becoming more engaging, and interactive', especially with 'smaller mental packets of information, presented here and there'. So, there is no doubt that this modality can be quite an effective TL aid. What I intend to propose through this article is the use of non-medical and general information-based quizzes of the above (van Gogh) variety. In this context, let me list some of the features of a good quiz question:
- The answer would be some famous entity (personality, place, event, film etc.), irrespective of the apparently long, tough-looking question
- The need to use some amount of lateral or associative thinking, usually from bits of information in the question itself, and adding on pre-existing knowledge
- As a famous quizmaster often says: 'The answer is in the question itsel' (provided you know how, and where, to look).
Let me pose another good question (self-proclaimed):
Following is the list of the 'Big Four' in a certain genre of music: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, X. The latter was named after a certain disease which one of the guitarists saw in a biology textbook, and chose because it sounded 'sufficiently evil.' This name became a source of controversy in the US in 2001. The band celebrated its 40th anniversary last year (2021) Identify it.
So why should one 'indulge' in this pastime/hobby? I had often asked myself, and some fellow quizzers, this question. Collective thinking did come up with some objective answers, in the form of a list of positive aspects, similar to those described in any team or solo sport. So here goes: Quizzing stimulates curiosity about a topic, thus encouraging self-learning. It encourages group activity (except if it is a one-person quiz) with most events having anywhere between 2 and 4 per team, it almost takes the form of a team sport, involving interaction, discussion and team spirit (of the mental, rather than physical version). It also activates a different perspective and thought process as some questions require logical connection, lateral thinking and observation skills.
Taking these to the next logical argument, why should such quizzes be part of undergraduate medical education? Well, here are a few suggested advantages (yet again these have been formulated after discussion with like-minded people):
- Encourages lateral thinking (useful in clinical medicine for piecing together bits of information to arrive at a larger picture/diagnosis)
- Teamwork (increases the level of confidence in each other)
- Stimulates the habit of looking for odd points (can help in solving multiple choice questions [MCQs])
- Fun-learning method encourages the quest for knowledge.
In our society, quizzing is considered a niche activity. It is nothing more than a sad misunderstanding due to which the art and sport of quizzing is looked down upon (or is it, looked up at) as an 'intellectual/elitist/no fun' activity. A well-framed question, which reads like a small story, with clues to the answer is the real deal, as far as the 'mental games' genre is concerned.
Meanwhile, I await the answer of the second question that I have posted in this article. Readers, please do try to apply the principles of breaking down the question to work out the answer. Needless to say, Googling is taken as 'unprincipled'. Looking forward to more interactions through the medium of this Journal, and creating quiz aficionados along the way. I hereby express my evangelical zeal for this sport: I appeal to all of you (especially the medical undergraduates) to give it a whole-hearted try. You have nothing to lose but a point or two (for a wrong answer), but everything to gain (in academics, and in life).
Dr. Puneet Dhar
Dr. Nithish T Jacob
Major Dr. Chandrakant Nair
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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