Taking Quizzes to Learn

A recent Technician Online article, based on a study done in the University of Texas at Austin, showed that “frequent quizzes could improve course scores, attendance in class”. The same principles applies to hybrid teaching and online teaching. Schwartz and Gurung, for instance, recommend that teachers “encourage student self-evaluation and self-regulation by integrating assessment with instruction” (71). According to this paper from Psychological Science, practice testing has higher utility than many other learning strategies such as re-reading.

Grading quizzes can be time-consuming if all quizzes are paper-based.  We would recommend that you move some standardized quizzes online to have your learning management system grade these quizzes for you and calculate such grades. Most learning management systems have the ability to weigh grades (OpenClass recently released the feature), therefore you can assign a weight to the quizzes themselves, or use quizzing grades in lieu of attendance record.

Here are some general suggestions for deploying your quizzes:

1. You might want to start building your quiz in a word processing software and always save a copy just in case some students have technical issues and are unable to take them online. Having a pool of such quizzes will also make it possible to reuse some of the same questions in other tests, such as mid-term or final exam. Having a Word copy will also make it possible to convert such tests online using softwares such as Respondus, if you choose to do so some time. However, when you copy and paste tests online, you might want to get rid of some Word formatting when you do so. Consult an instructional designer for methods to do so.

2.  You may want to consider the benefit of using some “formative assessment”, namely, you encourage students to take the quiz multiple times until they “get it”, if you use quiz to help them recall or recalibrate learning.

3. Instead of taking attendance, you could use a standardized test item within a quiz, such as “code of the day” (which you will announce in class) to make sure students are in the class for larger classes when the quizzes are given.

4. Check the quizzes, including the questions and answers, number of attempts, and release settings, before you ask students to take them. Sometimes errors can be difficult to correct once someone has taken the quiz.


If you are interested in any of the above, but you have questions, please let the instructional design team know. We can help you set these up.



Schwartz, B. M., & Gurung, R. A. R. (2012). Evidence-Based Teaching for Higher Education. American Psychological Association.

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