Application of Frequent, Spaced Multiple-choice Questions as an Educational Tool in the Pediatric Emergency Department

Matthew J. Rustici, Vincent J. Wang, Kate E. Dorney, Joshua Nagler, P. Jamil Madati, Patricia Ziegler, Genie Roosevelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objective was to assess the feasibility of using spaced multiple-choice questions (MCQs) to teach residents during their pediatric emergency department (PED) rotation and determine whether this teaching improves knowledge retention about pediatric rashes. Methods: Residents rotating in the PED from four sites were randomized to four groups: pretest and intervention, pretest and no intervention, no pretest and intervention, and no pretest and no intervention. Residents in intervention groups were automatically e-mailed quizlets with two MCQs every other day over 4 weeks (20 questions total) via an automated e-mail service with answers e-mailed 2 days later. Retention of knowledge was assessed 70 days after enrollment with a posttest of 20 unique, content-matched questions. Results: Between August 2015 and November 2016, a total 234 residents were enrolled. The completion rate of individual quizlets ranged from 93% on the first and 76% on the 10th quizlet. Sixty-six residents (55%) completed all 10 quizlets. One-hundred seventy-three residents (74%) completed the posttest. There was no difference in posttest scores between residents who received a pretest (61.0% ± 14.5%) and those who did not (64.6% ± 14.0%; mean difference = –3.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] = –8.0 to 0. 6) nor between residents who received the intervention (64.5% ± 13.3%) and those who did not receive the intervention (61.2% ± 15.2%; mean difference = 3.2, 95% CI = –1.1 to 7.5). For those who received a pretest, scores improved from the pretest to the posttest (46.4% vs. 60.1%, respectively; 95% CI = 9.7 to 19.5). Conclusion: Providing spaced MCQs every other day to residents rotating through the PED is a feasible teaching tool with a high participation rate. There was no difference in posttest scores regardless of pretest or intervention. Repeated exposure to the same MCQs and an increase in the number of questions sent to residents may increase the impact of this educational strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-93
Number of pages9
JournalAEM Education and Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Education
  • Emergency


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