Quiz Time

As I return to classes, I would like to share an item that got lost in the holiday shuffle: a recent study “showed that giving brief online quizzes at every class meeting in an introductory psychology class boosted student performance.” I have no doubt that this will translate to many other classes.

Allow me to explain some of the obvious reasons this is so. First, by having a graded event every class period, the expectation is set that students must show up every day. You can’t just read on your own, show up for exams, and expect to get a good grade. Showing up in class gives students the chance to hear a different explanation than is in the textbook, the chance to ask questions and hear other questions answered, and additional exposure to sometimes complex subjects.

Second, not only does each student know he or she must show up to class, he or she must show up prepared! It is understood that you’ve got to read and study and make an honest attempt to understand what’s actually been covered so you can do well on that quiz. That’s a different mindset than rolling out of bed and slouching through class.

And finally, it gives the professor valuable feedback on what students understand — while the coverage puts this onus on the student, I feel it’s a two-way street. If the majority of students miss one question, the instructor can and should re-teach the material while it is fresh. A new angle on how to present the topic can be explored. Students then have a fighting chance of understanding the material before finals. In many disciplines, harder concepts rest on top of previously learned ones, so this step is vital towards keeping everyone on track.

So yeah, no surprise that daily quizzes are good for learning outcomes.