Collaborative-group testing improves learning and knowledge retention of human physiology topics in second-year medical students

Adv Physiol Educ. 2018 Jun 1;42(2):232-239. doi: 10.1152/advan.00113.2017.


The present study examined the relationship between second-year medical students' group performance and individual performance in a collaborative-learning environment. In recent decades, university professors in the scientific and humanistic disciplines have successfully put into practice different modalities of collaborative approaches to teaching. Essentially, collaborative approach refers to a variety of techniques that involves the joint intellectual effort of a small group of students, which encourages interaction and discussion among students and professors. The present results show the efficacy of collaborative learning, which, furthermore, allowed students to participate actively in the physiology class. Average student's grades were significantly higher when they engaged in single-best-response, multiple-choice tests as a student team, compared with taking the same examinations individually. The method improved notably knowledge retention, as learning is more effective when performed in the context of collaborative partnership. A selected subset of questions answered wrongly in an initial test, both individually and collectively, was used on a second test to examine student retention of studied material. Grade averages were significantly improved, both individually and groupwise, when students responded to the subset of questions a second time, 1, 2, or 3 wk after the first attempt. These results suggest that the collaborative approach to teaching allowed a more effective understanding of course content, which meant an improved capacity for retention of human physiology knowledge.

Keywords: collaborative instruction; collaborative testing; peer instruction; prompt feedback.

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / standards
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Physiology / education*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*
  • Problem-Based Learning / standards
  • Students, Medical* / psychology