Teaching Tip: Quizzes for Learning

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The PLC (Professional Learning Community) will be providing the teaching tip of the week throughout the academic year in support of their goal of interdisciplinary collegiality.

One of the truisms of student learning is that the most learning strategies vary by individual. Some students learn well from visual examples and analogy. Some are great just reading. As teachers, many of us struggle to provide multiple mediums and messages appropriate for our learners under an always pressing time crunch.

Quizzes, within your Blackboard course shell, are an effective and quick teaching strategy.  Of course, our natural inclination is to use quizzing for testing knowledge, NOT developing it. It’s a strategy shift that can be very useful.

I teach a graduate methods course in which each week there are 3-4 quizzes, mostly multiple choice with some open-ended for math answers, that are required before attending class. For the most part I use them mostly to verify core concepts but more importantly these quizzes ensure that the students master a few core points before the lecture. It is critical in effectively using this as a learning strategy that you provide explanations for each wrong and correct answer so the student can learn WHAT they did wrong. I allow students to take the quizzes multiple times (as again, this is about learning, not testing).

Again, the tendency may be to provide no course credit for such quizzes. I recommend the opposite. If something is important in your classes, it needs to count for credit. It signals that it is worth doing and doesn’t take much – I give 5-10% for the course.

Student feedback on the quizzes is overwhelmingly positive. Some do sort of get tricked into thinking it’s like free points. Others understand that it’s a learning strategy. Either way, mission accomplished – quizzes provide a quick, alternative way to effectively communicate the course materials.

~ David Coursey, dcoursey@uta.edu, Director Public Administration, College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs (CAPPA)

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