Medical Council of Canada

Research in Clinical Assessment grant recipient (2011-2012) — Mariam Baghdady

Research in Clinical Assessment grant recipient (2011-2012) — Mariam Baghdady

Research in Clinical Assessment grant recipient (2011-2012) — Mariam Baghdady

The benefits of testing: Using tests to enhance student performance


Baghdady, M.


Woods, N.


In health professions education, tests have been traditionally used to assess the skills and knowledge of learners. More recently, however, research in psychology and education has shown that tests can also be used to enhance student memory; a phenomenon called the “testing-effect”. Much of the research in this domain has focused on rote memory of simple facts, and not on the deeper comprehension and application of complex theoretical knowledge necessary to diagnose and manage patients. The purpose of the proposed study is to examine the effect(s) of testing on students’ comprehension of the basic science mechanisms that underlie disease pathophysiology, and diagnostic accuracy.


Undergraduate health professions students will be taught the clinical features and pathophysiology underlying 4 intrabony abnormalities. Then they will be asked to make radiographic diagnoses. Participants will be divided into two testing groups: test-enhanced and no test. Participants in both groups will undergo a learning phase. The test-enhanced group will then complete a comprehension test that will cover the basic science mechanisms of the abnormalities presented in the learning phase, and the no test group will be given additional exposure to the learning materials without being tested. Participants in both groups will then be presented with radiographic images immediately after the learning phase and 1 week later. On both occasions, they will be asked to make a radiographic diagnoses.

Expected Outcomes

We hypothesize that the inclusion of the basic science test will not only improve the students understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms learned, but it will also improve their ability to make more accurate radiographic diagnoses.