A 9-hour biochemistry exam. An iron man competition or a good way of evaluating undergraduate students?

Alexandre B. Sé, Euler Nascimento, Marcelo Hermes-Lima


In a previous work we discus sed the capability of peer-tutors to write good true-or-fals e biochemistryexams (Sé et al. Are tutor-students capable of writing good biochemistry exams? SBBq 2004, abstractK-18). We are currently reporting the experience of 12 semesters in which a pair of peer-tutors ,coordinated by a professor, write a discursive exam. It has themes like obesity, cholesterol, diabetesand alimentation as de scribed in Passos et al, A lunch of pizza and pasta used for the learning ofmetabolic biochemistry, SBBq 2003, abstract K-10. The themes are chosen basedon 2 articles fromimportant international journals , such as the American Journal of Physiology. These articles have beenpreviously discussed in an Advanced Biochemistry class with all peer-tutors and the professor. Thequestions are base di practical situations, ac cording to what was exposed previously in a text, whichis written by the peer-tutors and base don the articles. The focus of the exam is the discussion of thesituation exposed and the development of a line of thoughts instead of just memorizing biochemic alconcepts . In order to facilitate this process, the students are divided in pairs to answer the questions(the y must have a di? erence in the previous exam grade lower than 1.3). They are allowed to bringbooks and class notes to the test to help the discussion. To avoid the rush and let the students discussand think freely, the y have 9 hours to do the exam . During this period, we evaluated the qualityof the 9-h-examby a survey at the end of it. When asked to give a 0-to- 4 score re garding (a) thedi? culty level of the exam (4 m ean ve ry hard), (b) if the exams makes an appropriate evaluation ofbiochemical knowledge (4 m ean it do e s) (c) if the exams make you re ason ab out applied biochemistry(4 me an it do es ), the scores were 3.14, 3.61 and 3.82 respective ly (n=469). Our survey show thestudents good acceptance of the 9- h-e xam. The grades along 12 semesters have a mean of 6.65 +-1.70 with a Gauss ian-typ e distribution (n=739). We can conclude that the exam has good quality and acceptance , and se em to be an alternative way of evaluating undergraduate medical and nutritionstudents.


9-hour ,competition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.16923/reb.v3i1.154


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