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.

Apps to Spice Up Your Quizzes

Written by the Instructional Design Team

While quizzes and tests are often used to generate grades, they do not always have to be. Some of you may use quizzes to help students learn and you do not care how many times students take them and how much they get with each attempt. In some cases, if students spend much time taking such quizzes till they “get it”, it might be a desirable process of learning. Such assessments are often labelled “formative assessments” as compared to “summative assessments”. If this describes what you want to do with some of your classes, you might want to try a couple of interesting applications that do exactly that.

Quizlet is an application (available on the web and as an app in the iTunes App Store) rather popular for formative assessment type of learning activities. You can generate a “set” of items that can be studied as flashcards, quizzes or even games in a variety of formats. Such activities can be easily shared in your course site, blog or Facebook page. Please check this set for an illustration.

You can sign in to Quizlet using your Google account. A set you create in Quizlet can be protected for personal use only, or you can share it with the general public. A third option, which is probably going to be very helpful for class use, is to share it with your class only with a password.


If you have graphics in every item of a quiz or test, you could also use a site called “Photopeach” to do that. Photopeach can be used to create photo slideshows. It is fairly easy to create. You will just need to upload a number of images or photos to create a photo-based slideshow, and then you can create short quizzes over particular photos. You can also have some stock music playing in the background as students view the show and take quizzes. The downside of this application is that you can only have three choices at a time with the quizzes. Check this set for an illustration.

Please contact the Adams Center for assistance if you need to set up such quizzes. If you use either of these two applications, we would love to hear how you use them and any advice you would give in using them.

We’d like to thank Jonathan Gray and Dr. James Langford for suggesting the use of such applications for quizzing!