Answering Huxley: “now” students take a “then” exam Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Twenty-eight undergraduate students in a health sciences program volunteered for an exercise in the history of examinations. They had completed a second-year course in anatomy and physiology in which they studied modern texts and took standard contemporary exams. For this historical “experiment,” students studied selected chapters from two 19th century physiology texts (by Foster M. A Textbook of Physiology, 1895; and Broussais FJV. A Treatise on Physiology Applied to Pathology, 1828). They then took a 1-h-long exam in which they answered two essay-type questions set by Thomas Henry Huxley for second-year medical students at the University of London in 1853 and 1857. These were selected from a question bank provided by Dr. P. Mazumdar (University of Toronto). A questionnaire probed their contrasting experiences. Many wrote thoughtful, reflective comments on the exercise, which not only gave them an insight into the difficulties faced by students in the past, but also proved to be a valuable learning experience (average score: 8.6 ± 1.6 SD).

publication date

  • September 1, 2019