Effectiveness of a question formulation rubric with second-year medical students: a randomized controlled trial


  • Dr. Jonathan D. Eldredge University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3132-9450
  • Dr. Melissa A. Schiff University of New Mexico School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine, Albuquerque, NM.
  • Dr. Jens O. Langsjoen University of New Mexico School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine, Albuquerque, NM.




Question formulation, Evidence Based Practice, Scoring Rubrics, Medical education, Educational measurement


Objective: The FAC (Focus, Amplify, Compose) rubric for assessing medical students’ question formulation skills normally accompanies our Evidence Based Practice (EBP) training. The combined training and assessment rubric have improved student scores significantly. How much does the rubric itself contribute to improved student scores? This study sought to measure student improvement using the rubric either with or without a linked 25-minute training session.

Methods: Randomized Controlled Trial. The authors tested the hypothesis that a 25-minute training session combined with use of a rubric would lead to higher scores than a brief explanation of this rubric alone. All 72 participating second-year medical students had a question formulation rubric briefly explained to them following a pre-test. Students in the intervention groups were taught how to formulate EBP questions for 25 minutes using the rubric followed with another 30 minutes of EBP search training. Students in the control group only received the 30 minutes of EBP search training in their small group labs. All 72 students took the post-test in which they formulated a question in response to a clinical vignette. Statistical analysis to test the hypothesis consisted of a two-sample paired t-test to measure between-group differences.

Discussion: The rubric itself unexpectedly contributed similarly to the Intervention groups students’ improvement, thereby saving scarce curricular time.


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Original Investigation