Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reading quizzes

A basic tenet of the flipped classroom approach is that students come prepared to class and I have found "reading" quizzes good way to help ensure that. (Here I put reading in quotation marks since it can also refer to video lectures.) Put another (stronger) way, I would not attempt any kind of flipped classroom activity without assigning reading quizzes.

I use the quiz function in Absalon, which is the course management system that the University of Copenhagen uses, but I am sure most of what I discuss below can be done with other course management systems such as Blackboard of Moodle.

Some general considerations
* My reading quizzes are usually 5-10 questions covering reading/video material they familiarize themselves with before we meet.  If you require more questions to cover the assigned reading/video then you are assigning too much.

* The quiz has two purposes: 1) to encourage students do the reading/watch the videos and 2) to let them know whether they have watched them with sufficient attention

* The quizzes do no contribute to the grade, which allows me to give immediate feedback on the answer.  This is really important as it turns the quiz into a learning tool.

* I allow (and ask) them to keep answering until they get all the questions right

* Absalon allows me to label the the quiz as "mandatory", though the repercussions for not taking it is left vague.

* The quizzes are not meant to be extra homework.  The questions are easy to answer if you have read the material.  I often use true/false questions.

* The last question is always "Did you find anything confusing that you would like explained when we meet?"

* I set the deadline for the quiz at midnight the night before we meet. There is good evidence that sleep is important for the transfer of knowledge from short- to long-term memory.

* Absalon has a nice feature where I can selectively send email to students who haven't taken the quiz yet.  If I remember, I do this around 8 pm.

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