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27 Apr 2021

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Educator story: Kahoot! helps medical students self-assess, retain knowledge and apply it in practice

Dr. Chris Jackson has been using Kahoot! extensively with his medical students and residents at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to enhance formative assessment and improve knowledge retention compared to traditional lectures.

As a clinician educator, I combine three different formats of teaching. Together with residents on their outpatient practice, we work directly with patients in the clinic. With the same group that can include up to 25 residents, we hold weekly ambulatory meetings. They’re targeted at case-based, more interactive learning in small groups. Finally, I also hold lecture-based didactic meetings.

(A didactic meeting is an instructive session that involves teaching by lectures or textbooks, as distinguished from clinical demonstrations or laboratory exercises.)

We’ve been running our ambulatory meetings virtually, and I found a great way to integrate Kahoot! into these sessions. Here’s how we use it and what improvements we’ve seen:

Game-based learning with Kahoot! helps build up practical knowledge

My classes are all about practical application of knowledge. Combined with the hands-on learning at the clinic, playing Kahoot! helps make knowledge stick.

Before an ambulatory meeting, I send a Kahoot! challenge to pre-assess knowledge. The results of the challenge help me understand which topics or concepts I should focus on when I meet students. After the session, I send another challenge to firm up that knowledge.

A big problem with lectures is that students don’t have a checkpoint to self-assess whether they have all the prerequisites to apply this knowledge in practice. Kahoot! challenges have become this crucial assessment checkpoint.

Leveraging Kahoot! really allows you to start from the basics and, after you’ve self-assessed and made sure the prerequisite knowledge is there, you can apply that knowledge practically.

To deepen learning and challenge my students, I really like adding multi-select answers. This feature allows you to go beyond common recall and eliminates guessing.

Screenshot of a kahoot with multiple answers

One of the multi-select quiz questions Chris used in his recent kahoot

Facilitating low-stake formative assessment

Ongoing assessment before, during and after student meetings defines the “what” and “how” of my classes:

  • What knowledge do students have to take out of the class based on what we’ve done in the clinic?
  • How can they organize this knowledge to remember as much as possible?
  • How can they encode the acquired knowledge to retain it over the long term?

Game-based formative assessment with Kahoot! decreases the pressure and allows assessment to become a slightly more low-stakes game. For example, learners can use their previous score as their benchmark and try to beat this as a way to assess their own progress. If we see that some questions were answered incorrectly by many students, we start a discussion and try to identify why it happened.

How to set a good learning climate

Additionally, I also use Kahoot! to perform pulse-checks with the group. I need to set a good learning climate and also monitor it throughout the session – how are students feeling? Are they comfortable with the material? Do they have any questions?

Playing Kahoot! helps residents ease into a topic or case versus jumping right into the material. In addition to topic-specific questions, I like adding ice breakers or social intelligence questions to break up learning. There’s a person behind every learner, and I want to make sure that person is doing well.

6 tips to optimize the Kahoot! experience for assessment

  1. Combine live kahoots and challenges
    In larger group didactics with all my residents, we play live kahoots. It is a great way to ease into a presentation in that learning environment. With smaller groups in ambulatory meetings, we extensively use Kahoot! challenges as a way to pre-assess knowledge and reinforce it later.
  2. Keep it focused
    Don’t try to ask about more than one concept in a question. I try to keep each question really targeted, and most of my kahoots only include around 6 questions.
  3. Change up question types for maximum engagement
    For example, I add true or false questions to challenge some preconceived notions of what my learners might think about something. It’s a great conversation starter!
  4. Make room for discussion
    For example, if the majority answered the question incorrectly in a live kahoot. We’ll take a step back and discuss why it happened – is it a knowledge gap, or was there something about the phrasing of the question?
  5. Emphasize learning with slides
    I often add slides to my kahoots to focus on the most important points.
  6. Go over the results together
    I like to look at kahoot reports together with learners and use those insights to improve knowledge.

Using Kahoot! makes learning and assessment more fun, and, as a result, learners connect with the material much deeper. They wouldn’t react the same way if I gave them the same questions on paper!

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