P384: Do students retain knowledge when taking large scale multiple choice common exams?
All plebes (first-year students) take the same general chemistry course at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD. The course taught by 29 different instructors uses the same textbook, follows a common daily syllabus and includes two multiple choice common exams at 6 weeks and 12 weeks during the semester in addition to a multiple choice common final exam. Instructors are encouraged to develop and administer their own instructor-written tests and quizzes in-between the common exams. These instructor-written tests and quizzes can take any format (open-ended or multiple choice) and can be administered on a schedule determined by the instructor. A discussion regarding whether the multiple-choice common exams measure memorization or knowledge is common. Research suggests that learning which is memorized often decays within 2 days if it is not deemed by the learner to be important. This poster will report on an experiment where students were administered a subset of questions from the common exams within 48 to 72 hours after completing the common exam. An analysis was performed to investigate whether students who answered the question correctly on the initial common exam could still answer it correctly 2-3 days later indicating that they learned the material beyond simple memorization. This trend was also investigated for highly successful (A and B), average (C), and unsuccessful (D and F) students.