Dr Magdy Elnashar is currently working as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University. Dr Elnashar has a multi-disciplinary educational background: chemistry (B.Sc. & M.Sc.), chemical engineering (some masters courses from the USA), biochemistry (PhD from the UK). He acquired the Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Here he discusses FastFeedback Questions, his tool to improve student grades.
In Australian Universities, based on a study from 1992 to 2014, the Feedback item has been consistently poorly rated by students. In addition, Biochemistry is a complex STEM subject which many students find difficult and was considered the hardest subject according to a recent study by Antigua medical school in the United States. In light of this I have invented a new and interactive teaching method, FastFeedback Questions (FFQs). My strategy is as follows:
FFQs use PowerPoint slides for the first time in no-slide show mode. The use of the area outside the main PowerPoint slide is more beneficial than that of the footnotes under the main PowerPoint slide. I used these areas to embed FFQs to facilitate the student’s learning process. Once the student understands they will be engaged in the learning process, building their confidence in the subject, and as a result will be more likely to get good marks and that will be reflected positively in their feedback on the teacher.
FFQs are a rapid formative feedback method that involves embedding carefully crafted focus questions alongside PowerPoint slides (outside the slide field). The PowerPoint is then projected as usual, but not in no slideshow mode, so the areas outside the main slide window are visible to the students. Prior to the lecture students receive a version without the answers. During the face-to-face lecture, the lecturer goes through the answers in an interactive way by requesting that students answer the FFQs, which can be verified immediately from the PowerPoint slide. The focus questions not only increase students' understanding of the slides, they also model good answers.
FFQs were delivered to the students of third year clinical biochemistry at Curtin University. 331 Students took part in the study, and their final exam marks support the use of FFQs as they showed an overall improvement of the student’s average grade by ~10%.
FFQs have also gained the accolade of the students as their feedback was on average ~97% positive compared to ~80.5% for the Faculty and University. Student’s final marks over four years have increased by ~7-12% compared to years prior to the introduction of FFQs.