Teaching Tip: Transform your exams/quizzes into review tools
This tip is based on feedback from 338 students across four Los Angeles college campuses.
When asked, “What was the most helpful use of technology in my classroom?” The vast majority of my students selected “Using Canvas for in-person classes” as #1, but “Reviewing lecture material with online quizzes” is a very close second.
It’s a big surprise that students are asking for more quizzes, but it’s the nature of these quizzes that sets them apart as a helpful learning tool. Rather than making quizzes/tests/exams as high-stakes assignments that will define their entire grade, we can use technology to include a wide variety of low-stakes quizzes with unlimited attempts that directly follow each lesson. In this way, students are far more motivated to actually listen to and take notes on your lessons when they know they will immediately have a chance to show what they have learned.
How can you format a quiz to serve as a review tool?
- Offer unlimited attempts to take the quiz. Motivated students will take and re-take the quiz until they are happy with their score and each time they take the quiz they will learn more material.
- Create a big question bank that changes each time your students take the quiz. If the questions rotate with each attempt, students are learning while they take the quiz (instead of simply memorizing the answers in order).
How can we avoid cheating during an online quiz?
It’s helpful to flip the script and to let your students “cheat.” Students can use texts and online resources to assist with quizzes as long as you use language in your quiz that requires reading comprehension. For example, you can define “evolution” as “the change in gene frequency within a population” in your lecture then define the same concept as “changes in genetic variation within a gene pool” in your quiz. If your students are referring to the textbook, internet, or lectures as they take their quiz then they are still learning as long as they are spending time processing information by connecting the dots across different materials.
This tip is part of a series, please also check out:
For the entire work, please see my article, “The Moral Obligation To Make Classes ‘Easy’.”