Use of Feedback-Oriented Online Exercises to Help Physiology Students Construct Well-Organized Answers to Short-Answer Questions

CBE Life Sci Educ. Fall 2015;14(3):ar25. doi: 10.1187/cbe.14-08-0132.


Postsecondary education often requires students to use higher-order cognitive skills (HOCS) such as analysis, evaluation, and creation as they assess situations and apply what they have learned during lecture to the formulation of solutions. Summative assessment of these abilities is often accomplished using short-answer questions (SAQs). Quandary was used to create feedback-oriented interactive online exercises to help students strengthen certain HOCS as they actively constructed answers to questions concerning the regulation of 1) metabolic rate, 2) blood sugar, 3) erythropoiesis, and 4) stroke volume. Each exercise began with a SAQ presenting an endocrine dysfunction or a physiological challenge; students were prompted to answer between six and eight multiple-choice questions while building their answer to the SAQ. Student outcomes on the SAQ sections of summative exams were compared before and after the introduction of the online tool and also between subgroups of students within the posttool-introduction population who demonstrated different levels of participation in the online exercises. While overall SAQ outcomes were not different before and after the introduction of the online exercises, once the SAQ tool had become available, those students who chose to use it had improved SAQ outcomes compared with those who did not.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cognition
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Endocrine System / physiology
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Learning
  • Metabolism
  • Physiology / education*
  • Stroke Volume


  • Blood Glucose