How to create efficient quizzes?

Students shouldn’t only be listeners. They should also interact with learning content. Quiz is one of the possible interactions that gives great results for long-term knowledge. There are four basic types of questions: multiple choice, single choice, true/false and fill in the blanks. As I’ll explain, these types serve slightly different purposes, but the main purpose of all quizzes is assessment. You can and should mix it up with different types of questions – as it engages the students mind in multiple ways. There are however some basic principles to follow.

Where does the quiz belong?

There are three ways to position the quiz, and they serve the three different types of assessment: for learning, as learning and of learning.

Types of assessment by Sandra Murphy

Types of assessment by Sandra Murphy

  • Quizzes can be put at the end of a specific learning topic or a specific module to gauge the students received knowledge. This is the most common use of quizzes, however, you shouldn’t overuse them. This is assessment of learning and it belongs to the end of a lesson.
  • Quizzes can also be an appropriate element of motivation challenging students to make critical judgment on a learning topic. In such cases, quizzes should include only a few questions. This engages the attention and creates reflection throughout the lesson. Stephen Casteron, a biology teacher, wrote about use of online quizzes for assesment as learning. He uses results to see students progress as they learn and if the student scores poorly, he is able to »sit with and support their further learning.”
  • Quizzes can be at the beginning of a certain module or learning topic to evaluate students prior knowledge. In that case this should be known to the student, so it doesn’t create pressure but curiosity.

 

What type of question to use?

Multiple choice question is best to use when there are more short and concise answers to your question. It doesn’t promote creative thinking, but this also means creativity doesn’t get in the way; students aren’t able to bluff with writing a lot without answering much and their writing skills don’t impede their knowledge on the subject.  You should avoid “All of the above” or “None of the above” answers (if “All of the above” is used, then technically the student is correct no matter which option they select) and obviously wrong answers as they are a distractor and promote guessing the right answer with elimination.

Single choice question is appropriate in the same circumstances as multiple, but in a case when there is only one right answer. We recommend you offer at least four options for answer, as this diminishes the odds of student getting a significant mark by guessing.

True or false type of question is used to test comprehension of simple logic or understanding, as with “if-then” statements. It is very important that these type of questions are given in direct and as simple as possible language. We advise you to structure the sentence so that the first part of the statement is true and the second is true or false. If the statement is true, all of its parts must be true under all circumstances, otherwise you should include context (for instance “according to” or “in warm weather”).

Fill in the blanks type of question is ideal when you want to control guessing. It is also good for the students, because it promotes recall, rather than just recognition of the right answer. However, you should be very precise in forming these types of question so that the desired answer is the only possible one.

 

Fundamental rules for preparing quizzes are:

  1. Quizzes shouldn’t be too long; it is advisable to prepare no more than 10 questions per lesson.
  2. Questions and answers must be meaningful and relevant.
  3. Optional answers shouldn’t differ only in one word or be just turned around. This could frustrate the student.
  4. Use quizzes when necessary and not because »it is nice to have one.«
Example of an inappropriate question – first and second option are too similar.

Example of an inappropriate question – first and second option are too similar.

Feedback?

It is advisable that every question provides feedback. Feedback should be stimulating and include additional explanation or reference sources. Feedback can be given after every question or after completion of the whole quiz. With feedback quizzes become a learning tool, rather than just an assessment tool. Quizzes with provided feedback have a great impact in long-term retention on information.

Example of feedback given after the student completed the question.

Example of feedback given after the student completed the question.

 

Quiz results are feedback to the teacher

Additionally, quizzes may serve as a process providing feedback from the students to the teacher. Online quizzes have a huge advantage here, as they offer far better feedback to the teacher about which questions took most time to answer, which student had problems, where the extra explanation is needed and such in an automated and easy to understand way.

Use of quizzes in Edynco is unique:

Quizzes in Edynco are added inside the Learning map. The structure of a Learning Map gives you a possibilitiy to visually place the quiz before, during or at the end of specific learning topic. When the students are exploring the map, the quizzes intuitively coincide with the lesson. If you don’t know what a Learning map is, click here.

You can use a video or image within a question. The visual material can serve as a means of reflection, motivation or can directly relate to the specific question.

Students can see only one question at a time, so the focus stays on that particular question.

Every quiz provides important statistics, which can be used in further lesson planning.

 

References:

 

About Jana Jan

Jana Jan is a co-founder of Edynco – a tool for creating interactive Learning Maps. She has more than 10 years of experience in developing of pedagogical support and quality assurance in educational process in higher education. She is also a co-author of numerous e-textbook and online courses. Now she is a member of developing team of Edynco passionate in researching different learning design approaches.

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