In a recent post, I mentioned that, after the exercise with geopedia, students need to complete an online quiz on BlackBoard. This is one of the things that I have been trying out this semester so that I ensure students are doing their homework, and I think it has worked very well. Students seem to be coming to class better prepared than they did when I was not having them take these quizzes (albeit at a different university) and they have a stronger background in the material for the day’s lesson.
Here are some of the things that I have noticed ought to be considered with this method:
- Time limits for the quiz. I started the semester with a 10 minute limit, but I extended it to 15 minutes after students asked for a little more time so that they could think through matching-type questions.
- Number of attempts on the quiz. Depending on your method of teaching each lesson, you may only want to allow one attempt (e.g. with team-based learning) but multiple attempts may also be helpful (e.g. with Socratic seminars or semi-meandering class discussions).
- Implications of flipping the classroom. This method of ensuring that students do the homework is essentially flipping the classroom–students receive more information passively at home than in the classroom. As a result, your class should not be a complete reiteration of the reading or material for the quiz. I have learned to add more material or dive into it more deeply in class.
- Implications of quizzing students on new material. Many students become anxious about quizzes and exams, and I think giving students study questions that relate to/are similar to the exam questions may help them take the quiz with better grades and in a more calm manner (as well as know what is important information to read for).
- What type of questions to ask. I tend to focus on questions that are fairly low on Bloom’s Taxonomy, so ones that ask students to recall information (i.e. what is the Nemean lion) or apply an new idea from the reading (i.e. identify a pot with a painting of Herakles and the Nemean lion). Partly, this is because I’m using the quizzes to make sure that students are reading the homework, partly it’s so that we can (ideally) use the class time to move up to higher levels of the taxonomy. Next semester, I think I would tell students this at the beginning of the course, so that there is a greater expectation that they learn from the passive reception of data at home–sometimes I feel like I am generally reinforcing this information in class. Admittedly, it’s good that there is the reinforcement in class, and this can be used to your advantage. The questions can also prime students for the class discussion. So, for example, if you will discuss similarities between Aeneid 12 (Aeneas fights and kills Turnus) and Iliad 22 (Achilles fights and kills Hector) in class, on the quiz you can ask questions that will highlight the similarities (e.g. Who chases whom? What god helps each warrior? Is there begging for mercy and burial?)
- Planning Ahead. If you assign the quiz to be completed for a class, you need to have written the quiz before the end of the prior class–you cannot write the quiz the day before class. Ideally, you’d also have planned the class for which you are writing the quiz too.
- Visibility of the questions after the quiz is due. Depending on the system you use, you can choose whether your students can see the quizzes, answers, and correct answers after the quiz has been submitted. Your choice on this matter could be affected by a variety of factors, including what method you will use to teach each day’s lessons and how your exams will be structured. To study for the latter, students would benefit from seeing the questions after the quiz is submitted.