Key Information

Number of student partners:  4 students

Number of staff partners:  4

Length of project: One month (summer holiday)

Weekly time commitment for student:  Two weeks full-time.

The students discuss the successes of their project

Imperial College School of Medicine

Lead staff partner:  Dr Tanvi Agrawal

Project Area: Curriculum Development

Other staff partners:  Dr Michael Emerson, Dr James Pease, Prof Mary Morrell

Student partners: Alexandra Cardoso Pinto,Isha Parekh, Monica Kelada, Saad Muhammad

Background for project

The ongoing MBBS curriculum review recognized the need for an interactive, user-friendly and expansive self-testing resource for the Year 1&2 medical students, mapped onto the programme’s Learning Outcomes, which could provide the students with high quality feedback. This led to the development of the Imperial MedSTEP StudentShapers project.  Its purpose is to facilitate and encourage active learning in the form of self-testing, which has repeatedly been established as an effective and efficient way of developing a long-term and deep understanding of concepts.

The project consisted of 3 phases of activity – Summer StudentShapers project, development of digital platform and dissemination. 4 student partners were recruited from the Year 1&2 MBBS cohort to develop a self-test question bank.  The StudentShapers project involved writing a combination of SBA, SAQ and drag-and-drop questions for the Imperial MedSTEP platform. 


  • Self-testing material for the reviewed year 1 module, principles of medicine (POM), was generated. Our goal was to generate self-testing material for the topics of Metabolism, Immunology, Genetics, Haematology and Laboratory Practicals, all part of the reviewed year 1 module called Principles of Medicine (POM) module.
    The implementation of weekly group gathering (round table) helped improve my capacity to receive and give criticism in a professional manner, which undoubtedly improved my teamwork skills"

    Student partner

  • Questions will be hosted on an interactive & user-friendly digital platform - MedLearn website.
  • Student partners have developed several different questions types – single best answers (SBAs), fill-in-the blanks, drag & drops and short answer questions for each topic.
  • To promote active learning, most SBAs follow a standard format: Question, options, explanation of each option, and feedback in a short topic summary in tabular/flowchart format.
  • 600+ Year 1&2 MBBS students will have access to a question bank reviewed by the faculty.
  • Continual discussions and reviews through the staff-student partnership ensured that questions had an appropriate level of complexity; not too complicated, but difficult enough to encourage students to link concepts rather than simply recalling information, encouraging active learning. 

Benefits to student learning and further outcomes

I think it gave students a valuable insight into how questions are designed, which is helpful in understanding how to prepare for our own exams and how to approach different questions."

Student partner

Imperial MedSTEP was launched in two phases – October 2018 for the year 2 MBBS students and January 2019 for the year 1 MBBS students. The launch event  entailed showcasing specially filmed video of StudentShapers student partners describing their experience, benefits of active learning and correct use of this resource. A dedicated @mbbs_studyskills Instagram account has also been set up in collaboration with the Head of Academic Study Skills to encourage MBBS year 1&2 students to use these self-test questions regularly and to inform the students of updates and question-drops! 

Students are becoming increasingly receptive to the concept of active learning - especially those required to learn a significant amount of information. This method of learning has shown to be effective amongst many students - less time is taken to study and the focus is on understanding concepts, rather than recalling information.