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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quizzes and Learning: An Inseparable Duo

by. ProPropft

How, though, do we go about testing our students? The traditional long test format has been shown to be updated. Long tests tend to drain students, create more exam stress, and emphasize studying “for the test” rather than to learn material.

As an alternative to tests, short quizzes, or shorter-length tests, allow for students to focus more on concentrated subject areas. The interactive method of correcting the quizzes immediately upon the completion of the assessment receives favorable input from students and teachers alike. Furthermore, quizzes can be re-taken in order to ensure that a student learns the required material rather than studies for the big test.

Moreover, as we move further into our "computer age," we are increasingly dependent on technology as a learning tool. Even notable research universities such as Harvard have online courseware. And, just like classroom-based learning, online learning also requires the assessment of student progress. In fact, online learning actually lends itself to the use of the kinds of smaller quizzes that many find to be quite successful.

By reinforcing key ideas presented in a lesson or lecture, short online quizzes can help a student to individually understand the points that were possibly presented unclearly by the course instructor or courseware. The understanding and knowledge gained by taking a quiz should be individual to the student who attempts to comprehend material. Most education researchers agree that learning is best accomplished when the subject matter is closest to the student; for this reason, traveling to a foreign country is often preferred to the classroom when a student attempts to learn a foreign language. In a foreign setting, the student quickly learns and corrects errors. Similarly, online courseware supported by quiz software can pinpoint a student’s individual errors and that allows a student to take the quizzes that would most benefit his learning. This makes for an undeniably personal learning experience.

To this end, online learning software can also provide customized feedback and support for a student. Questions that are marked incorrect are given “explanations,” or customized feedback to the student about the question and the correct answer. For example, if a student missed several questions in his practice quiz, his instructor could require that he reads the explanations for the incorrect questions and then re-take the quiz to earn a higher score. Such feedback is a unique feature of online quizzing.

Of course, we’ve been overlooking the most obvious advantage of online quizzing : the convenience and flexibility that it offers. Online quizzes can be given at anytime and virtually anywhere that has an Internet connection. In addition, quiz questions can contain media that would be difficult to pursue in a “traditional,” classroom context, such as high-resolution imagery, sound, and video. The ability to employ media lends itself to teaching real-world, applied learning questions rather than the dull objective test items that you would come to expect from a classroom environment.

Long tests still have their place in education; for example, many instructors use them during mid-terms or finals. However, short quizzes are a good tool to use in ensuring that a student understands material and rather than just preparing for the big test. While quizzes are not the only answer to the educator’s woes, they can be employed to ensure a personalized, responsive, and interactive learning environment for the student.

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