Quizzes in an age of course management software — from profhacker.com

Most days, students in my literature classes will have accessed Moodle, and will have taken a multiple-choice quiz on the day’s reading.

The secret sauce to the quizzes is, frankly, the course management system.  Here’s why:

  • The online delivery means that the quizzes take zero minutes of class time (emphasis DSC). I usually teach the MWF (50-minute) schedule, and I can’t be wasting time on quizzes.
  • The online delivery also means that students can look at the questions before they read (emphasis DSC), which, if I’ve thought about the questions enough, can help frame the reading a bit.
  • Because the quizzes are multiple choice, Moodle grades ‘em (emphasis DSC). I’ll repeat that: THE CMS GRADES THE QUIZZES!  This is awesome for lots of reasons: 1) the student knows, right away, how they’re doing. 2) I know before class starts whether the class has understood the assigned reading. And, 3) I don’t have to grade them.  I’m never behind on them.
  • It turns out that the quizzes, easy as they are, reductive as they are, do usefully predict student performance. They’re terrible at differentiating between A/B range students, but they do an awesome job at sorting students who are at risk (emphasis DSC).  Over the course of the semester, there are so many questions that if you miss 1 or 2, it’s no big deal.  But if you’re *always* missing 2 out of 5 questions, then it will eventually dawn on you that you’re doing D-level work.