FOOD FOR THOUGHT (FFT) is our weekly content crafted by our members to highlight the important issues in medical education.

It is meant to be a light read with links and references mainly to create awareness on the highlighted issues to our faculty. 

Enjoy the diversity of styles in the writing and narrative from our writers.

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Good day everyone

I am sharing information which I received during the 3rd Asia Dengue Summit last week. The summit discussed about the dengue issues and situation in Asia as well as Dengvaxia, an only approved vaccine (produced by Sanofi Pasteur) for dengue virus. This vaccine has been approved to be used in few countries. The Philippines, Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, Singapore and Costa Rica where The Philippines has started mass immunization program in 2016.



Good day everyone

I am sharing information which I received during the 3rd Asia Dengue Summit last week. The summit discussed about the dengue issues and situation in Asia as well as Dengvaxia, an only approved vaccine (produced by Sanofi Pasteur) for dengue virus. This vaccine has been approved to be used in few countries. The Philippines, Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, Singapore and Costa Rica where The Philippines has started mass immunization program in 2016.



Good day everyone and I hope you have a great weekend.


For the weekly MERIU food for thought this week, I would like to share with you some experience from the Psychiatry Department on improving the Introductory Psychiatry SPK3961 posting for the year 4 medical undergraduates.


All of us can agree that it is important for us to continually improve ourselves. We attend CMEs / read new publications / attend conferences to advance our medical knowledge. However, having this knowledge does not directly translate to effective teaching. The delivery method would greatly affect how much our students absorb from us. What worked for our generation may not be the same for the current generation of students. Therefore, we now use various methods like SCL tutorials and blended learning. But there is one more step to consider, how do we find out if the students benefited from it. Ideally, we would like to tailor our teaching to match our students. This is where student feedback comes in.


For the Introductory Psychiatry Posting, in addition to conducting a face-to-face feedback session with all the students, we also created an online Padlet page to collect comments / feedback from the students. A lot of students are intimidated or fear the consequences of giving their honest opinion to us. Especially when it is regarding a negative feedback. Therefore, this Padlet page allows the students to comment anonymously. We have found that this has greatly increased the number of feedback entries that we receive and thus, help us to change and improve our posting over time.


I would like to share with you some screenshots of the feedback that we have received over this past academic year.



Some comments helped us realize the shortfalls of the clinical attachment:



Without this comment, we would not have realized this and we were then able to take steps to avoid it in the subsequent groups.




Some comments that helped us realize what was helpful:






Knowing what they found useful also helped us to adjust our teaching methods to improve the posting.




Some compliments to the lecturers:



We were very happy that there were many compliments to lecturers in the feedback form. Some were general compliments and some were directed towards specific lecturers. It definitely boosted the morale of the lecturers and reminded us that our efforts were appreciated.




Last but not least, a very inspiring comment from one of our students:



Overall, I would definitely recommend this method of receiving feedback from our students. We make it a point to discuss about this feedback in our department meeting to ensure all lecturers can continue to improve their teaching methods. I find this very helpful and I hope that sharing this experience can help other postings as well.



Thank you.





Additional reading on students feedback:




Assalamualaikum and Good day

A psychologist Daniel Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize gave a talk on experience and memories which they are different entity. For example, a consumer could have a great experience with a product or service, but only have bad memories when thinking about it later. Here’s how. Let’s say you are on vacation and have dinner at the best restaurant recommended to you. Perfect table. Food is exquisitely prepared. The experience is fantastic. However, when clearing the table, the waiter spills coffee into your lap. Odds are that the coffee spill will degrade your memory of the food, no matter how exceptional you otherwise would have remembered them. And if the hot coffee burned a leg or damaged an expensive dress or suit, the wonderful dining experience may not be remembered at all.


Kahneman points out that the decisions we make are based on our memories, not our experiences. So for that restaurant, your memory will have negative consequences. Not only will it prevent you from returning, it will be shared with all your friends who ask about your dinner.


The point what I want to bring forward is the good or bad experiences of our teaching, ward round, tutorial and what not will become part of our students memories to be remembered as they experienced it and try your best to be part it




YouTube link



Assalamualaikum wbt and good day,


Alhamdulillah, with the support of our Deputy Dean (Academic:Medicine) office and members of Medical Education Research and Innovation Unit (MERIU), we had organized a day workshop on simulation-based medical teaching and learning, on 18th April 2018 at our Clinical Skills Lab. The workshop, which was facilitated by Associate Professor Dr Rafidah Atan from Monash University Malaysia, aimed to introduce simulation-based learning to our lecturers. 6 CPD points were awarded for this workshop. About 20 academics from various departments, including Department of Nursing and Rehabilitation, participated in this workshop. Activities in this workshop required active participation and interaction by the participants. In this regard, I would like to thank the participants for their commitment and active participation.


Photos below illustrate the activities during the workshop.


an overview on simulation
designing the scenarios
simulation activities 
running the console behind the scene (patient's voice -"tolong, tolong, sakit, sakit")

some of the participants 


On behalf of MERIU members, I would like to extend our gratitude to Prof Dr Zamberi, our former Deputy Dean (Academic: Medicine) and current Dean, for his guidance and continuous support in every activity organized by the unit. Many thanks also to Puan Azzreen Abd Latif and Puan Norazlina. - their hardwork resulted in the smooth running of the workshop. Last but not the least, I would also like to extend our gratitude to our FMHS Management for supporting MERIU activities. A big thank you from all of us.


I am sharing an article titled, “Simulation in Medical Education : Brief history and methodology“, which is accessible at for further reading on simulation.


Hopefully other educators in this faculty would also explore simulation in their teaching.


Thank you, selamat berpuasa to Muslim friends and have a nice weekend.




ssalamualaikum and dear all,


First of all, I would like to apologise for the long overdue FFT this time. 


So anyway...


Why do we need to blueprint our assessment? It is really important to have a blueprint?


A blueprint is needed to ensure that our assessment is aligned with the learning outcomes. It also can be a guide for the educators to construct the assessment items. 


An assessment needs to be valid. It is said to be valid when it is congruent with the objectives and learning experiences, and this can be achieved by having an assessment blueprint. It also makes our assessment to be fair to students with a good distribution of questions that are aligned with our learning objectives.


I am sharing an article titled "Blueprint in Assessment: How much is imprinted in our practice?". The article suggests the 5 steps for blueprinting. 


In summary...


1. Define the scope and purpose of the assessment: Formative or summative? What are we testing i.e. knowledge, attitude or skill?

2. Decide on the weightage: Is it 'must know', 'good to know' or nice to know'? Also it can be based on the frequency of occurrence of a particular disease/health problem.

3. Decide on the number of items.

4. Decide on the tasks for each content area: This is to determine whether we should ask on the basic sciences, diagnosis, investigation or treatment. Or we can also determine whether we want to ask in written exams or practical/clinical exams.

5. Create individual items based on the blueprint.


Blueprint also helps us to reflect our learning outcomes. Are they actually achievable? And also we are able to reflect the learning experiences. Are we delivering the intended curriculum or not?


In conclusion, a well-constructed blueprint is a valuable tool to increase the validity of our assessment. We may need to 'invest' a small amount of time and effort to create a blueprint that will produce a significant amount of 'dividends' on the long run. :)


Have a nice week ahead. Thank you for reading. 



As we all know, becoming a doctor does not require just knowledge alone, it also requires various skills and a certain level of competency. 


As medical educators, we dedicate a lot of our time and effort in training and assessing our learners. 

While assessing knowledge is relatively easy in terms of preparation in which it can be conducted mostly as written format, 

skills assessment however will not be possible with pen and paper method.  


For those who are familiar with Miller's pyramid, you can recall that one of the assessments used is OSCE which addresses the shows how.

OSCE is : Objective Structured Clinical Examination.  

For a few years now, we are conducting OSCE as it should be conducted and though it is not perfect but with more and more

medical educators (all of you reading this) understand why we do it and what we are supposed to assess in OSCE, we should  be improving year by year. 



OSCE is structured and standardised making it a fair assessment tool to the learners. 

Although preparing OSCE can be very demanding, time consuming, requires many examiners and other considerations, 

the reason why we invest great time and effort in OSCE is because we need to ensure that we are doing our part in producing good doctors

.. that they have achieved the desired competent level.  


Many of us are involved and have been involved in preparing OSCE questions, planning and coordinating OSCE.

The article attached writes on 12 tips for organising OSCE - some of which we already know and some perhaps

will be new knowledge. 



May the article provide a good understanding of OSCE.


Thank you and have a peaceful weekend. 



Dear all,


OK… so now we might have known that knowing one’s own learning styles are bunk as there are lack of evidence in support of learning styles. But is there an alternative that aids learning of all learners across most curriculums? I come across a term called learning strategies, which are researched and proven to work across most levels of curriculum.

Simply put, a few of the most promising learning strategies are:


  1. Retrieval Practice

- In other words, practice testing in the form of quizzing that attempts to force retrieval of material from one’s memory.

  1. Distributed Practice

- This means spaced practice, meaning distributing practice of material over time. This allows more retention than cramming.

  1. Interleaved Practice

- This involves shifting the focus of one’s studies among differing topics. So that means, I don’t put all my attention and focus on studying the cardiovascular system when I am studying CVS, but rather shift to another topic such as nephrology for example. Eventhough this may make studying difficult, but studies have shown that it results in greater retention of materials that have been learned.


There are many other learning strategies but those three above are the most widely used with most promising results, apart from being evidence-based and easily applicable.


If you wish to read further, here is the link and further elaboration and examples of the different types of learning strategies:


Thank you and have a nice weekend!



When I first came to UPM, I was so excited as I realized that I am not only a Medical Doctor but also a teacher or what one would call an “educator”. I was telling myself that I would strive to be a good teacher and help my students in UPM to learn new things and achieve their dreams.


I was blessed to have attended Professor Emeritus Dato' Dr. Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman’s talk (Dato' Dr Sheikh Omar is also affectionately known as Pak Sheikh) during our KAP earlier this year. In his inspiring talk, Pak Sheikh reached out to the audience and asked an interesting question; whether we wanted to be a good teacher or a great teacher?


He explained to us that a good teacher teaches well but a great teacher; not only teaches well, but also energize students, inspire them and facilitate continuous lifelong learning. It is then that I realized that it is not enough to just be a good teacher but one must also be a great teacher.


But how?


Professor Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent Islamic scholar wrote; God loves when one of you is given a task, that he or she does it in the MOST excellent manner.


It is my own firm belief that in order to perform any task in an excellent manner, one must first be able to devote one’s mind and energy in managing time properly while not losing focus on one’s priorities.


Secondly, in order to achieve our goals in our respected profession, we need to possess a truly positive attitude to work, aim to build a healthy work environment amongst our peers and have a relentless commitment to excellence.


While a strong desire to achieve goals is necessary, educators need to be prepared for the future with well defined action plans coupled with good management skills and unwavering determination.


In other words, we should be willing to give our everything.


Today, I would like to share 12 qualities of an exellent teacher: ( )




  1. Committed to the work

Focuses on educational needs of the students

Works with passion

Keen to uphold the university’s values

Enthusiastic about work and about teaching


  1. Encourages and appreciates diversity

Does not stereotype or speak negatively of others

Nurtures and encourages diversity

Seeks and encourages understanding of, and respect for,people of diverse backgrounds


  1. Interacts and communicates respect

Communicates effectively with others

Encourages input from others, listening deeply and giving credit for their contributions

Acts with integrity

Provides a model of high ethical standards

Shows a caring attitude


  1. Motivates students and co-worker

Encourages students to achieve their goals

Provides constructive feedback

Monitors progress of students and fosters their success


  1. Brings a wide range of skills and talents to teaching

Teaching is clearly presented and stimulates high-order thinking skills

Presents difficult concepts comprehensibly

Brings appropriate evidence to the critique

Teaches memorably


  1. Demonstrates leadership in teaching

Contributes to course design and structure

Contributes to publications on education

Evidence of self-development in an educational context

Demonstrates creativity in teaching strategies

Committed to professional development in education


  1. Encourages an open and trusting learning environment


Creates a climate of trust


Encourages students to learn from mistakes


Helps students redefine failure as a learning experience


Encourages student questions and engagement in the learning process


Encourages student growth with appropriate behaviour-based feedback




  1. Fosters critical thinking


Teaches students how to think, not what to think


Encourages students to organize, analyse and evaluate


Explores with probing questions


Discusses ideas in an organized way


Helps students to focus on key issues


Trains students in strategic thinking




  1. Encourages creative work


Motivates students to create new ideas


Fosters innovation and new approaches




10. Emphasizes teamwork


Builds links at national and international levels in education


Encourages students to work in teams


Encourages collaborative learning




11. Seeks continually to improve teaching skills


Seeks to learn and incorporate new skills, and information teaching


Seeks feedback and criticism


Keeps up to date in specialty




12. Provides positive feedback


Listens to students and discovers their educational needs


Values students, never belittles


Provides constructive feedback


Helps and supports people to grow


Teaches students how to monitor their own progress.




I hope this FFT helps, especially to new lecturers like myself; to become an excellent role model to our students.


Lastly, like Pak Sheikh has reminded us; do not forget to involve God the Almighty in our journey from the beginning till the end.


Best wishes to all lecturers at FMHS, UPM!



Thank you.




Good Morning,


Exams might be stressful, but they improve learning.

So, properly prepared question papers / items for evaluation is a must to guide the students to understand the questions properly and help them to answer appropriately. Question vetting plays a major role in this process.

If the questions are prepared casually just before the examination and are not put through any quality check to correct any possible mistakes or ambiguity in the questions format, this may lead to confusion or wrong understanding of the questions by the students which will be reflected in their answers as well. Notably poorly structured items are the major threat to validity of assessment and it may directly reflect on students failing rate. Therefore vetting of examination questions is an ongoing process in teaching institutions and is considered important to maintain quality standard of any examination.

To ensure that the examination questions are correct, fair, valid and reliable, THREE (3) major variables are needed to give careful attention during a vetting process. The THREE (3)variables serve an important guideline are:

  1. technical
  2. content
  3. language accuracy

For the WHAT and HOW to use the THREE (3) important guidelines, please explore the two valuable articles attached. The vetting strategies mentioned in the articles could be applied to all discipline in the faculty.


Have a nice day.

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