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.
© 2015 J. Carnegie. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2015 The American Society for Cell Biology. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). It is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).