Why We Still Need Quizzes In Teaching

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Author Bio: Lesley Vos is a private educator and online tutor from Chicago. She teaches the French language, helps students deal with academic writing, and consults them on career endeavors. Vos is currently writing an e-book. She contributes content to online publications on education, career, and writing, sharing her thoughts and experience on the topics.

When it comes to measuring training, educators face the problem of choosing the best way to do that. With so many methods to test learners knowledge and performance, multiple choice quizzes remain controversial today.

Why does this happen?

Some instructors consider quizzes a childish way to test smart and experienced learners: they believe quizzes insult the learner’s intelligence and don’t provide accurate results to estimate student performance. Others don’t see anything wrong with quizzes, considering them a vital part of the learning process and a great way to find out whether learners have fully understood a course.

The latter ones are right, but it’s not all that simple.

Over the last few years, much research has been conducted on the topic, aimed at determining the benefits of quizzes, if any, and finding out if they are worthy to apply in learning. The results speak volumes.

It Works for Me, Flipping the Classroom, (Math Flipping the Classroom) shares practical tips from college teachers and the experiences of educators across the disciplines. The book mentions several benefits of quizzes, and among them are creating the right attitude to learning and nurturing curiosity in students. Furthermore, Apiwan D. Born from the University of Illinois describes frequent quizzes as a method to reduce plagiarism in academia.

However, this argument would hardly work for educators opting for quizzes no more than twice a year during Big Tests: they often catch mentees red-handed in attempts to copy quiz answers from peers, so most teachers use online plagiarism checkers to make sure students create original works when writing.

Among instructors who support quizzes in learning is Tania Leal, PhD from University of Iowa who suggests quizzes drive students understanding, engagement, and motivation. Likewise, a study from Mark A. McDaniel et al. proves the fact that frequent quizzing helps students perform better on exams without extra reading. And yet, as Jolene A. Kayser mentions in her paper about the effect of daily quizzes on student learning, incorporating this kind of testing into educator planning might have negative effects, as well. Due to busy curricula aimed at testing learners performance half-yearly, it’s challenging for some instructors to create, organize, and manage quizzes on a regular basis; the workload required for this “could easily result in burnout.”

At the University of Vermont, researchers found relationships between procrastination, anxiety, and achievement. Their recommendation was for educators to give frequent testing to keep anxiety low and boost good study habits.

Roediger et al. concluded that frequent testing helps students retrieve information from memory, which turns quizzing into a powerful mnemonic device. And a 2009 report proves quizzes have a positive impact on student motivation.

On the flip side, the meta-analysis of frequent testing by Robert L. Bangert-Drowns et al. shows that despite quizzes may work for creating a positive atmosphere in the classroom, their frequency doesn’t influence final examination scores considerably. Moreover, they conclude that “the amount of improvement in achievement diminished as the number of tests increased.”

Long-term improvements from quizzing have been examined, as well. Faculty at Washington University in St. Louis describe the results of three experiments aimed to determine whether this method of testing knowledge promoted learning and retention of material. They’ve found that students’ performance on both chapter and semester exams improved when using multiple-choice quizzes. Also, the experiments have proven that retrieval practice boosts students’ academic performance.

Based on the above, the usefulness of quizzes in teaching are numerous. On top of everything else, they also offer five key benefits:

  • Help learners remember.

  • Motivate students.

  • Assess knowledge.

  • Keep learners engaged.

  • Develop research skills.

Quizzes are a vital part of a learning process as they help educators engage students, motivate them, and assess their knowledge of courses. A variety of online specific tools makes it easier for teachers to create quizzes and introduce them to students. However, it’s still important to make sure the way you ask questions in a quiz and answer choices you provide allow for testing knowledge and performance to the fullest extent.

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