Seeking Application for the NNCI Assessment Task Force

Since 2014, the NNCI has been developing resources for teaching and learning neuroscience relevant to the clinical practice of psychiatry. The goal of our Assessment Task Force is to develop a companion set of online questions to guide, assess, and reinforce learning.

We are accepting applications on an ongoing basis. Faculty and trainees are encouraged to apply. The application packet should include:

  • Applicant’s Curriculum Vitae
  • A letter outlining the applicant’s interest in participation
  • Three original questions with answer key/rationale and reference, specifically linked to an NNCI resource (see writing guide and sample question below).

All materials should be uploaded here as a single file.

Question Writing Guide

The Test Item:

  • Questions should be linked directly to a resource posted on the NNCI website (NNCIonline.org) (see below for a list of priority topics)
  • The question should be focused on one of the main teaching points / learning objectives within the resource

The Question (or Stem) should be:

  • Worded and structured in a way that it could be answered without looking at any of the choices
  • As brief as possible
  • Focused and clear, providing only relevant information
  • Positively phrased and avoid “Exceptions”

Answer Options should:

  • Have five choices
  • Have only one right answer
  • Be independent with no overlap
  • Be short and to the point
  • Follow grammatically from the stem
  • Be homogeneous with each option relating to one another (e.g. all are diagnoses, tests, or treatments)
  • Be similar in content, length, grammar, and complexity
  • Be free of vague quantifiers such as “usually,” “mostly,” or “rarely”
  • Avoid “all of the above” or “none of the above”

The following resources offer additional tips and checklists for writing multiple choice questions:

Collins J. Education techniques for lifelong learning: writing multiple-choice questions for continuing medical education activities and self-assessment modules. Radiographics. 2006 Mar-Apr;26(2):543-51. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16549616

Naeem N, van der Vleuten C, Alfaris EA. Faculty development on item writing substantially improves item quality. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2012 Aug;17(3):369-76.

Sample Question

What is the core pathophysiology in Fragile X Syndrome thought to be involved in memory impairment?

  1. Abnormality in dendritic spine formation
  2. NMDA receptor structural abnormality
  3. Disease of misfolded proteins
  4. Deficiency of dopamine production
  5. Dysregulation of the uncinate fasciculus

Answer: A. Abnormality in dendritic spine formation

Fragile X syndrome is due to an abnormally large number of CGG repeats on the X chromosome. This trinucleotide expansion silences the expression of a specific gene (FMR1) and its corresponding protein (FMRP). The resulting pathophysiology is an abnormality in dendritic spine formation; spines are elongated, tortuous, and densely packed, and they are thought to undergo rapid turnover.

For more information, please read: McCann RF, Ross DA. A Fragile Balance: Dendritic Spines, Learning, and Memory. Biol Psychiatry. 2017 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5712843/

Priority resources for submissions include:

Clinical Commentaries:

This “Stuff” Is Really Cool:

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