Cobb, Stephanie and Byrne, David E.
Poster communication. Frequently asked questions: an on-line solution to an off-line problem
Proceedings of the Physiological Society, 567P, (PC222)
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At the Guy's, King's and St Thomas' (GKT) School of Medicine we have developed an on-line Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) system for our first and second year medical students in response to requests from academic staff to provide an area where the answers to commonly asked student questions could be made available. The FAQ database driven system allows students to type any question into an on-line form and then select a subject area to which the question relates. At GKT we run a phase based curriculum across the medical course. Phase 1 provides a basic 12 week introduction covering basic pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry and anatomy in term one. Phase 2 runs from the second term in year 1 to the end of year 2 and is based around 37 clinical scenarios. A student can simply submit a question anonymously, which is a feature that has proved very popular in encouraging students to use the system. When a question is submitted, an email is automatically sent to the appropriate tutor who will then log on and supply an answer. Any student may visit the web site any time and view all of the previously asked questions. Clicking on a question displays the tutor's answer and the date on which it was submitted. Creating a system that is dynamic and both subject and context specific allows greater flexibility in how it is used by students and staff. Staff may use it to identify areas of difficulty in the curriculum or post answers to individual student queries that would be of benefit to the entire year. Students may view questions on individual subject areas by simply clicking a button or they may search the entire question bank by keyword. Staff who have logged on to the web site to answer questions may also delete their questions and/or answers in the event of duplicate or irrelevant questions being posted. This system is currently in use for the first and second years of our medical course with a view to expanding it to the clinical years, the Graduate Professional Entry Program (GPEP) and throughout the Biomedical Sciences curriculum. It integrated with our virtual learning environment (the GKT Virtual Campus) and with each scenario across Phase 2 to provide students with immediate access to scenario specific commonly asked questions. The system is accessible both on and off-campus which proved popular with students off site and at home and staff who can respond to student questions without having to be on-site. There have been 600 questions posted and answered since it was launched. As we develop a clinical scenario-based curriculum it is anticipated that clinical scenarios will be able to link back to this system allowing true vertical integration of this system across the medical course. It is anticipated that the number of questions asked in each academic year will reduce over the life of a course due to recurrences of the same issues over time.
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