Post written by guest author Alexandra Webb, ANU Medical School.
Urban legend has it that the word ‘quiz’ was invented in 1791 by Richard Daly, a Dublin theatre owner, in order to settle a bet. Daly bet that he could add a new word to the English language within 48-hours. In order to win the wager, Daly sent out all of his stage-hands during the night to chalk the letters “QUIZ’ on doors and walls all over Dublin. The next day the word, which no-one knew what it meant, became the talk of the town. Daly won the bet!
Today, we find quizzes everywhere – on TV, at the pub, in newspapers and magazines, and in online games and apps. But how are quizzes relevant nowadays in university education? And what is the best way of delivering quizzes? The aim of this course is to examine the value of quizzes in education and explore important aspects of quiz design. By the end of this coffee course we hope that you will be equipped with the necessary tools to support the creation of quizzes in your own educational setting.
Thus, practice tests, such as quizzes, during study increase the likelihood that information will be recalled at a later time and are not simply a measure of prior learning. This is encouraging justification for educators to incoporate quizzes into their educational practice.
The benefits of practice tests have been demonstrated to not be dependent upon the type of quiz implemented (McDaniel et al., 2007; McDermott et al., 2014). This gives teachers a great deal of flexibility to develop quizzes that best suit their discipline or educational environment. On Day 2 of this Coffee Course, you will be introduced to a spectrum of question types so that you can create quizzes that best suit your discipline and educational delivery methods and provide variety to your students.
How do we optimise the use of quizzes for learning in our educational practice?
- Provide feedback
The benefits of practice tests are even greater when the tests are followed by feedback, especially for items that are incorrectly recalled. There is also evidence that for more complex information, feedback aids students that get the answer correct, especially if they select a correct answer with low confidence (Butler et al., 2008). We will look at feedback further on day three of this course.
- Spaced retrieval
Spacing learning over time was our other most effective method of learning. Therefore, we can maximise the effectiveness of quizzes by providing students with quizzes spaced over time. The greater the amount of spacing between quizzes (retrieval events), the greater the potential benefit to retention.
- Low stakes
It is recommended that quizzes are used for low stakes testing and do not significantly influence course grades. (Roediger et al., 2011)
What experiences have you had with quizzes in teaching, either as a teacher or as a student? What role did you find the quizzes played in your learning or the learning of your students?
How can quizzes be incorporated into your course(s)?
There is an extensive variety of ways in which quizzes can be incorporated into your course(s). In today’s university settings, many of these methods are delivered using educational technologies. Whilst there are many effective non-technological solutions to delivering practice tests, it is worth noting that online quizzes have a number of benefits including:
- Potential for students to do the quizzes and receive immediate feedback anywhere, anytime
- Automated marking protects academic time
- Access to analytics and reports on how students are performing which can be used to address learning gaps and inform course improvement
- Student response systems to quiz students during a class
One benefit of student response systems is participation by all students. The immediacy of the results also enables educators to act immediately to address any misconceptions. Student response systems can also be interspersed within some educational settings such as lectures to enhance student attention and focus on the task at hand (Szunar et al., 2013). You can read more about this in Technologies for active learning and Interactive activities that can be used in lectures.
- Using online quizzes to test students before or after a class
Pre-class quizzes can be used prior to an active/interactive class to test student remembering and understanding of key concepts and rudimentary knowledge covered in pre-learning resources such as videos, articles, online modules etc. Post-class quizzes could be used after an active/interactive class to provide students with an opportunity to exercise higher cognitive processes such as anlaysis and evaluation. These could also be achieved without technology e.g. students write down answers on paper and peer- or self-mark; think-pair-share task; 1-minute paper; scratch cards.
Students can also incorporate testing into their self-regulated learning. One common strategy reported by students is the use of flashcards to test basic facts and concepts. At the ANU Medical School, a student-led initiative has been the generation of online flash cards using Anki. Fourth-year ANU medical student William Maish was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s 2019 Citations for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning for creating 1000s of Anki cards for medical students at the ANU and beyond to use to aid their learning.
A Few Final Words
The long-term memory benefits of practice testing are hopefully reason enough to advocate the incorporation of quizzes into your course(s). But in case you are not yet convinced, here are some additional benefits of quizzes:
- Facilitates the identification of topics that students are struggling with so that the educator can intervene e.g. revisit or spend more time on the topic
- Facilitates student reflection on topics that they are having difficulty understanding
- Enhanced organisation of information by the learner
- Facilitates retrieval of material that was not tested
- Improves the transfer of knowledge to new contexts
For more information on the additional benefits of retrieval practice see Roediger et al., 2011 Ten Benefits of Testing and Their Applications to Educational Practice.
What (new) ideas do you have to incorporate quizzes into your teaching and learning environment? What technological solutions have you used, or do you plan to use, to aid your delivery of quizzes?
- Courage, Katie (2016) “How to study, according to science – plus 4 tips for better learning.” Retrieved on 01/06/16 from: https://source.colostate.edu/study-according-science-plus-4-tips-better-learning/
- Gooding, H.C., Mann, K.V., & Armstrong, E.G. (2017). “Twelve tips for applying the science of learning to health professions education.” Medical teacher, Volume 39 1, 26-31. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27665669
- Queensland Brain Institute (2018) “Science-based tips to improve learning.” Retrieved on 01/06/19 from: https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/learning-memory/science-based-tips-improve-learning
- Dunlosky J, Rawson KA, Marsh EJ, Nathan MJ, Willingham DT. (2013) “Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology.” Psychol Sci Public Interest, Vol 14, issue 1, 4-58. Available: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1529100612453266
Butler, A. C., Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. III. (2008). “Correcting a metacognitive error: Feedback increases retention of low-confidence correct responses.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Volume 34, issue 4, 918-928. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0278-73220.127.116.118
- Roediger, H. L., Agarwal, P. K., McDaniel, M. A., & McDermott, K. B. (2011). “Test-enhanced learning in the classroom: Long-term improvements from quizzing.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Volume 17, issue 4, 382-395. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0026252
- Szpunar KK, Moulton ST and Schacter DL (2013) “Mind wandering and education: from the classroom to online learning”. Front. Psychol, Volume 1, issue 4, 495. Available: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00495
- D’Antoni, A. V., Mtui, E. P., Loukas, M. , Tubbs, R. S., Zipp, G. P. and Dunlosky, J. (2019), “An evidence‐based approach to learning clinical anatomy: A guide for medical students, educators, and administrators.” Clin. Anat, Volume 32, 156-163. Available: https://doi.org/10.1002/ca.23298
McDaniel, M. A., Roediger, H. L. III, & McDermott, K. B. (2007). Generalizing test-enhanced learning from the laboratory to the classroom. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Volume 14, issue 2, 200-206. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/BF03194052
McDermott, K. B., Agarwal, P. K., D’Antonio, L., Roediger, H. L. III, & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). “Both multiple-choice and short-answer quizzes enhance later exam performance in middle and high school classes.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Volume 20, issue 1, 3-21. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000004