Competition as a Means for Improving Academic Scores and Attendance at Education Conference

Saeed Tarabichi, Michelle DeLeon, Nicole Krumrei, Joseph Hanna, Nell Maloney Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the effectiveness of competition on education conference attendance rate with a secondary goal of increased performance on in-service examination performance within a single academic general surgery residency. Design: By using a competition-based model of learning, we aimed to increase the overall resident attendance to weekly education conference as well as performance on in-service examination. Residents were given weekly reading assignments which were supplemented with lectures from faculty with expert knowledge of a given topic on a weekly basis. The ability of the surgical resident to apply this knowledge in a board-style exam was then tested on a weekly by administering a 10-question quiz. Setting: The program was implemented at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, an academic surgical residency program. Results: The competition-based model of learning had improved conference attendance rates from 52% to 90% Overall quiz participation rates were 90.3% (SEM = 6.32%). Of the 5 distinct postgraduate levels performing on the weekly quizzes, the postgraduate year (PGY) 3 class performed best with the highest scores through 8 weeks. The next highest scoring class was the PGY 4 class. Overall average scores were 76% (standard deviation 10%). American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination scores did not significantly change between the observed years. Overall the average percentile for 2016 American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination was 55.3 compared to 2017’s 47.4 (p = 0.0906). Conclusions: After adding competition to our weekly education conference, we were able to improve our overall education conference attendance. Although this change did not have any objective changes measured on in-service examination results, we feel the increase in attendance and participation within education conference can only serve to benefit the surgical trainee. The establishment of this program has increased resident academic expectations, and a formalized guest-attending lecture schedule only drives conference participation higher. The establishment of weekly quizzes for and by residents allows the student to be more involved in their own education, and that of their peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1437-1440
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Education


  • Competition
  • Curriculum
  • Didactics
  • Education Conference
  • Medical Knowledge


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