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Can an examination be comprised of student-authored questions?

Peerwise is an online tool which allows students to design multiple-choice questions (MCQ) for their peers.  For the last two years, several Units of Study run by our School (Molecular Bioscience) have embedded Peerwise into our formal, in-semester assessment program.  This experience has led us to believe (controversially) that these questions are often better than those set by our academic colleagues and could inform, or even largely comprise the examinations.  It also provides an effective tool for remediating at-risk students, who can be given a task of authoring an MCQ on a concept they are struggling with.

Abstract
Peerwise is an online tool which allows students to design and deploy multiple-choice questions (MCQ) for their peers who then answer, comment on, and rate the quality of these questions.  For the last two years, several Units of Study run by our School (Molecular Bioscience) have embedded Peerwise into our formal, in-semester assessment program.  Whilst each Unit coordinator frames the assignments differently, all constrain individual students to authoring on particular concepts (to ensure a good range of questions) and award marks on three major areas: quality of question design and explanation, appropriate engagement with other students’ questions, and maturity and helpfulness shown when offering feedback.

Not only do we have strong evidence to show that Peerwise has had a marked effect on the performance of our students, all this activity has led to the creation of a bank of several thousand questions.  Our controversial claim (which will be substantiated in the presentation) is that these questions are generally BETTER than those set by our academic colleagues for the examinations.  Indeed, the vastness of the pool of questions, the alignment with specific learning outcomes, and the multiple iterations of review and revision all make us believe that the final examination could be largely comprised of (or at least informed by) these student-authored questions.

We also believe it represents the best approach for remediation of at-risk students, particularly with identified problem learning outcomes.  It is more effective and revealing to give struggling students a task to create an MCQ on a difficult concept, than for us to exhaustively try and re-formulate explanations without adequate understanding of their personal misconceptions. The student review of the questions allows remediation to be led by the student cohort, allowing stronger students to cement their own understanding of the topic by correcting the errors of their peers.