Quizzing online students is necessary to track learning trajectories, giving insight into how much progress has been made and how much still needs to be done.
Although the quizzing itself might be the easy part of a curriculum, there is much to consider when regarding how to test the insight of your students.
Make them work
Quizzes can be stressful on students as well as teachers. Remember this and try to keep things calm and assign plenty of homework assignments beforehand that could help students feel more prepared for whatever may come their way during the test.
Recap and repeat
Students should feel confident going into the test that they know what they are about to confront. You can help them by constantly reminding them at the end of each lesson what it is they should have gleaned from it, and what they are expected to know for next time.
Encourage extra reading on the topics you cover by presenting a few sources yourself, and fan the flames of their curiosity by giving them fun facts. Teaching is nothing if not for the instinct to know more. Encourage questions from students at all times.
These are the 2 types of memory that are central to teaching, short-term and long-term memory. All new information starts out as short-term, which can be quickly forgotten, and links in knowledge or emotional connections help bind it to a long-term memory.
Used regularly, this information will itself become a long-term memory. Moving information from short-term to long-term memory means students are more able to apply it to their everyday life, at work, school or even in work or personal relationships. To bring your teachings into this category, it is best to teach and test the information as if it were in the everyday setting of the student.
There are many kinds of test questions one can use, here are just a few of the most popular types and what to watch for when considering its use.
Open ended questions could lead to never-ending answers
These can be long or short depending on how the question is phrased. These are very standard test questions and, as the answer must be written in the student’s own words, is usually seeking a short answer.
However, for longer answers with more insight, ask very specific questions as students must be able to answer definitively. Otherwise, you might end up with a paragraph of writing for what you intended to be a one-word answer.
These long answer open ended questions can be very insightful but also limiting to a subject as it can take up quite a bit of test-taking time, only a few questions can be asked. A short one, however, can seem too shallow to show insight.
Instead of a short, one-word answer, focus on situation-based problem solving. This eliminates the need to track for cheating and activates higher learning functions that helps students retain information better than simple memorization would.
Let There be Writing!
If you want to test true individual knowledge, essay and papers writing are certainly a couple of the best ways. Besides revealing the student’s own takeaways from the course, it also requires students to research outside the regular times they would devote to your course and transcribing the information into their own words can be a powerful way to learn.
The downside to this type of testing is that, while simple enough to have students just turn it in, it demands a lot of time from the teacher to sift through this treasure trove of information, not to mention the extra time double-checking for plagiarism.
The valuable insight could still outweigh the amount time spent however, and, being in a digital world, there is plenty of help available online. Try websites like Turnitin , which helps both student and teacher by checking for proper language use and for plagiarism.
Freedom to Choose
Students invariably prefer multiple choice or true/false questions in tests than having to answer open-ended questions. Many students believe this form of testing to be less stressful and less challenging.
It is, however far less forgiving in their grades than open questions or essays. Once they are wrong, there is no half point for effort. While the insight into their learning trajectory is more limited in these types of questions, you can word the answers or questions in such a way as to test critical reading skills by having very similar wording in the answers.
So yes, they are easier to grade and less stressful for the students, however it gives little insight into their learning trajectory.
Websites like Socrative have features where students can study beforehand with similar multiple choice and true/false questions. Teachers can make tests beforehand and reuse them for recurring courses.
Do not let the memory of this information fade into the background!
While quizzes might seem like the ultimate qualifier, your student is never finished learning. This is a fact you must instill in all of them.
After testing, encourage students to revise information in homework or essays. Many students study to rehash the information on the quiz, only to forget it immediately following. This behavior could make the student’s and the teacher’s hard work all for naught!
Inspire students by allowing them to see how further growth in the topic is still possible and how they can challenge themselves by venturing on.
How do you quiz your students? Do you feel like giving them time for more in-depth answers in worth the payoff? And what do you do to keep the flames of their curiosity alive?