With schools closing left and right due to COVID-19, teachers and educators all around the world have been given the unenviable task of navigating an entirely unprecedented educational landscape.
It’s safe to say that the transition to distance learning has not been an easy one. On top of having to quickly learn how to adapt to new technologies and routines, teachers have also been forced to figure out how to meet the vital learning needs of their students while still keeping them engaged and motivated to learn remotely.
Thankfully, teachers everywhere have been rising to the challenge and boldly taking the bull by the horns.
Now that the initial transition period is over and the dust has settled a bit, we’ve discovered a few things that help with creating a productive learning environment for students.
One particular resource that’s been extremely helpful for teachers and students alike is the humble education quiz.
Quizzes, tests, and assessments are nothing new to the world of academia. However, with the growing prevalence of remote learning, we’re seeing more and more educators turn to digital quizzes as a powerful tool in providing a positive learning experience for their students.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the different ways teachers can use quizzes to engage with students and keep them actively learning during the pandemic. In this article, we’ll cover:
- How Online Quizzes Help Students
- How to Design an Education Quiz
- The 5 Best Types of Educational Quizzes
- Branching Scenario Quiz
- Formative Quiz
- Open-Book Quiz
- Classroom Trivia
- Student-Created Quiz
To all the teachers out there, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you’re doing. I hope that this guide will help you, even if only in a small way. And, on that note, let’s dive right into it!
How Online Quizzes Help Students
Quizzes can take many forms, from a fun personality quiz on Facebook to entertaining TV shows and even cut-throat competitions. But where quizzes really shine is in the classroom, especially the digital one.
Back in the old days of “grill-and-drill” style teaching, quizzes were nothing more than informal assessment tools. An easy way for teachers to quickly test a student’s ability to memorize certain facts and to see if they were paying attention during class.
However, what’s become increasingly clear in recent years is that quizzes can be so much more than a mere tool for testing. Multiple research studies have concluded that quizzes have the power to encourage collaborative discussion, promote active learning, and even help decrease student stress and anxiety. These benefits have never been clearer than they are right now.
With distance learning becoming the norm, digital education quizzes are quickly becoming an essential tool for teachers in helping them build a positive learning environment for their students, even if they’re no longer sharing the same physical space.
Listed below are the top five reasons why you need to start incorporating digital education quizzes into your remote teaching plan.
“Make a concerted effort to REALLY connect with students — fun questions, icebreakers, show-and-tell. Sprinkle them in weekly as an antidote to the otherwise impersonal nature of virtual learning.” — Claudia Felske, East Troy High School.
Keep Students Engaged
“How can I get my students to pay attention?”
It’s a question that many teachers have asked themselves over the years and one that’s become increasingly important with remote learning. Keeping students engaged with the material was already hard enough in a physical classroom; now it’s even harder that all communication is through a screen.
According to a recent Gallup poll on the challenge of remote learning, 45% of U.S. families say that their children being separated from their friends and teachers has been a major challenge for the family, closely followed by 44% saying the same about their child’s motivation and attention span.
The great thing about quizzes is that they’ve been proven to help with keeping students engaged with the material, as well as improve information retention and recall.
One study by Dartmouth College found that students who were quizzed regularly were twice as likely to engage with the material. Furthermore, quiz-taking students were far more likely to do better on final assessments and tests.
In another study published by the AAAS, psychologists and education experts discovered that regular quizzing and testing significantly improves a student’s ability to recall information in the long-term. The study goes on to conclude that students who undertook “retrieval practice” exercises performed better academically compared to students who did not.
The reason is that regular quizzing allows students to build their knowledge on a topic gradually by giving them a chance to review and apply what they just learned. With a quiz, you’re not asking your students to re-read the same thing over and over again and hoping it’ll stick, but providing them with a stimulating way to use that information.
In my humble opinion, quizzes get such a bad rap because most of them are just plain boring. Which is why one of the main benefits of digital quizzes is that they can be so much more than a handful of questions on a piece of paper.
With a digital quiz, you can incorporate any number of interactive elements—from short videos to eye-catching graphics—to make your quiz more interactive and interesting for your students. With digital quizzes, teachers can be flexible and creative in how they quiz their students by incorporating game-based learning. For example, when trying to get a student to engage with a new text, you can create a fun character quiz to see which characters they’re most like. Not only is this more fun than writing a report on a character, but it also helps students understand the characters more while also encouraging them to engage with the text.
Another fun activity you can do with digital quizzes is to host your own Jeopardy! style game over Zoom. All you have to do is provide students with a link to your online quiz and the entire class can play. Even better, the quiz will automatically tally the results for you so you don’t have to spend the next hour figuring out who scored the most points.
Don’t be afraid to go beyond the simple “fill-in-the-answer” type questions. Think outside the box when it comes to using digital quizzes.
Improve Student Confidence
It might seem counterintuitive, but having students take more quizzes can actually reduce their level of stress and anxiety in the classroom.
Unlike more formal assessments like exams and tests, quizzes are much more low-stakes and are designed to test a much smaller set of skills. By providing regular quizzes with a small handful of questions, students naturally become more comfortable with the topic as a result.
A huge advantage of digital education quizzes over traditional ones is that they provide immediate feedback for each student. For many students, a major source of anxiety is not knowing whether or not they gave the correct answer and having to wait days, if not weeks, for the results.
With a digital quiz, you can create slides that automatically pop up every time a student answers a question, regardless if it’s correct or not. This is extremely helpful because not only does it provide immediate feedback for the student but teachers can also use these slides to reinforce key lessons as well.
Regular quizzing also boosts student self-confidence by giving them a chance to assess their knowledge and help them identify what gaps they might have.
Studies have shown that student learning is much more effective when students can choose what to study over being given a list of items to read up on. By receiving consistent and regular feedback through quizzes, students become immediately aware of which areas they need to work on and how to direct their own learning.
Instead of feeling at a loss because they’re not sure where to begin, self-assessment tools like quizzes help provide kids with the individualized direction they need to manage their education.
Easy to Set Up and Use
A huge reason why teachers should embrace online quizzes is because of the hours of work and time quizzes can save them.
An unfortunate reality is that the majority of teachers were not prepared for the sudden transition to remote teaching. On top of having to adjust on the fly with lesson plans and syllabuses, while juggling uncertainty over the school year, many teachers have also been expected to learn new skills and master a wide variety of unfamiliar tools and technology in a short amount of time.
Even before the pandemic hit, a report by McKinsey found that the average teacher spends less than half of their time interacting with students; most of their time is eaten up by various administrative tasks.
The great news is that tools like online quizzes can potentially free up to 13 hours a week for teachers by automating tasks like grading and lesson preparation.
To set up your own quiz, visit Interact and click the “Make Your Own Quiz For Free” button at the top right. The link will take you immediately to dozens of different templates to create your own quiz.
From there, all you need to do is add your questions and answers. You’ll also be given the option to assign weighted scores to different answers depending on how complex you want your quiz to be.
You can make your quiz more engaging by adding multimedia images and gifs to the answers. You can personalize your quiz’s colors, themes, and fonts as well!
Once you’re done, just share the URL with your students and you’re good to go. Easy.
Provide Teachers With Valuable Feedback
As amazing as remote learning can be, a huge drawback of teaching through a screen is that it’s harder for teachers to know if their lessons are getting through, or if a particular student is struggling with the work. An unfortunate problem in education is that many students don’t seek help when they need it, so it’s up to the teacher to look out for their well-being.
However, with regular no-to-low-stake quizzes, teachers can identify which students require extra attention.
On a broader level, running regular quizzes also encourages teachers to focus their lessons. Unlike in a physical classroom, it’s near-impossible for teachers to see how students are responding to a lesson. There are no subtle cues like leaning forward, shuffling chairs, or an easily identifiable spark in the eye with gallery view.
Weekly, if not daily, no-to-low-stakes quizzes lets teachers know if their class is understanding a lesson or having a difficult time with a particular concept. This type of feedback can be absolutely invaluable in ensuring that nothing gets missed in lessons.
You can also use your quiz-building platform to gather direct feedback from your students to help you figure out what is and isn’t working. In one recent study looking into the best practices of online teachers, the number one trait each high-performing teacher shared was that they regularly solicited feedback from their students.
“I send an emotional check-in Google Form every two weeks. Kids answer three questions: 1) How are you feeling this week? 2) Would you like a check-in from one of your teachers? 3) If so, how should we contact you?
It meant a lot to the kids to know that I cared. We had some nice conversations as a result of this simple form. Sometimes kids who hadn’t turned in work for a few weeks would fill out this form and it became an opportunity to reconnect and bring them back in.” —Kristin Lawlor, English and journalism teacher at the Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx.
As we’re adapting to the “new normal,” the fact of the matter is that there isn’t a roadmap or blueprint we can all turn toward. All of us are figuring it out as we go and it’s going to take a lot of trial and error before we get it right.
Which is exactly why the best thing you can do to improve your own remote teaching skills is to find out what your students are thinking.
How to Design an Education Quiz
All right, now we know that online quizzes help students learn, either through simple retrieval practice, encouraging active learning, or helping teachers gather feedback.
However, as with most things, not all educational quizzes are the same.
To truly embrace the power of digital quizzes, you must first understand what goes into crafting an educational quiz. An education quiz that actively promotes learning and development needs more than just a handful of questions with some simple multiple-choice answers.
For you and your students to get the most out of your digital quizzes, here are a few helpful tips on how to design an education quiz.
Tip #1: Pick the Right Format
First and foremost, before we even get around to the fun parts of designing a quiz, let’s make sure that we’re creating the right quiz for our students. There are over a dozen different types of quizzes out there, and the simple fact of the matter is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to constructing an educational quiz.
To figure out what the right quiz format is for your students, let’s turn to the classical piece of educational theory known as the 5E Model of Instruction.
The 5E Model of Instruction refers to the five stages—Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate—that a student must go through to develop a complete understanding of a topic. How you design your own educational quiz will depend on what your goals are and what stage of learning your students are in.
For example, in the Engage stage, teachers introduce and foster interest in a new topic, as well as gain a baseline understanding of the student’s prior knowledge. A simple assessment quiz at the start of class is a great way to quickly build that initial sense of curiosity into the topic and assist students in figuring out where their own knowledge gaps are.
At the Explain stage, teachers should start introducing more technical and complex concepts to students.
Teachers can create a quiz that doesn’t allow students to move on to the next question until they’re able to give the correct answer. When learners can make multiple attempts at the same question until they get it right, they are able to learn a new topic at their own pace without fear of being punished for making a mistake.
When creating an education quiz, really take a moment to think about what it is you want to accomplish with your quiz and what type of format will serve that goal the best.
Tip #2: Use a Variety of Questions
Our next tip is to look beyond multiple-choice answers for your educational quiz.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using multiple-choice answers for your quiz. The only time it becomes a problem is when educators use this type of question over and over again. No matter how interested or engaged your student may be, re-using the same format is a guaranteed way to make your kids disengage with the material.
The key to solving this, as well as being the spice of life, is variety.
According to a study by Washington University, the best way to promote learning through quizzing is to use a variety of question types within the same quiz. Breathe a little extra life into your educational quiz by incorporating open-ended short-answer and short-essay questions, simple true/false questions, as well as questions that require matching answers.
In another study by Colorado University, researcher and teacher Elizabeth Tropman discovered that even simply changing the format of the quiz from time to time was enough to produce positive results from her students. To prevent her quizzes from becoming too monotonous, every couple of weeks she changes the quiz format from straightforward multiple-choice questions that had to be completed immediately to open-book quizzes that could be done at home.
In the end, Tropman found that this teaching technique improved her students’ reading and writing abilities, as well as encouraged them to be more prepared for class and more likely to participate in group discussion.
Tip #3: Give Feedback for Each Question
Too often we see quizzes as nothing more than assessment tools that provide a snapshot of where students are in their learning, rather than a tool for further education. Usually, this has more to do with the amount of time a teacher has available when it comes to grading and providing feedback over anything else.
Which is a shame, because if there is one thing we know for sure about information retention, it’s that the quicker you receive detailed feedback, the more likely you are to actually internalize what you learned in the long-run.
The good news is that one of the immediate benefits of online quiz-making platforms is the ability to automatically provide individualized feedback for each question in your quiz, potentially saving you hours of time.
You can always do the standard “correct” or “incorrect” type of feedback, but that isn’t very helpful for students. Multiple research studies have found that providing written comments and feedback is far more effective at improving academic performance than simply providing a grade or a score at the end.
Instead, explain why an answer is wrong, and perhaps even direct students to the resources they need. Even if a student gets the right answer, it’s still helpful to include a feedback slide to add some additional information to ensure that students are continuously receiving opportunities to learn.
Essentially, what you’re doing is building a positive corrective feedback loop for your students—without any of the extra work!
Tip #4: Embrace Technology
The final tip for creating an excellent education quiz is to embrace the full capabilities of your quiz-making platform. Quizzes are no longer limited to being a handful of questions on a sheet of paper—with the technology we have available at our fingertips, they can be so much more.
One very simple way to instantly make your quiz more engaging is to add different types of media throughout. Multiple studies show that something as simple as adding images to your lesson can promote deeper learning.
Instead of just boring plain text questions, be sure to mix it up with some fun images, gifs, and maybe even video and audio files. Not only will this breathe novelty into your quiz, but it’ll also cater to the different learning styles of your students.
Take advantage of the fact that you can create branching scenario quizzes, and create an interactive learning tool that automatically customizes itself to each student. You can also, just as easily, set up a process that emails your students the relevant slides and lessons based on their quiz results.
Many teachers these days are taking advantage of their digital quizzes’ ability to streamline tasks, like keeping track of student attendance and grading. Most quiz-making platforms have an analytics feature where you’ll be able to view both individual and group results.
The brilliance of technology is that, when used correctly, it can help free up so much more time for educators by automating processes that used to require hours of work.
The 5 Best Types of Education Quizzes
As we continue to research the benefits of quizzing as a teaching technique, we’re finding dozens of different ways to utilize quizzes in the classroom.
But first you have to make sure you’re using the right tool for the job!
Not all quizzes are built the same, and choosing the right one for your students heavily depends on your teaching goals. To help you figure out which one is right for your class, I’ve listed five different types of education quizzes for great results in any curriculum!
Branching Scenario Quizzes
A branching scenarios quiz is basically an educational version of those old Choose Your Own Adventure books; every decision you make will lead to a different outcome, and it is one of the best ways to take advantage of the interactive nature of digital quizzes.
As your student goes through a branching scenarios quiz, they’ll be presented with a number of answers to a question. The quiz will then automatically direct students to the next question based on their previous answer.
What makes a branching scenarios quiz so powerful is its ability to present information in unique, entirely engaging, and unexpected ways.
For example, let’s say you want to help your students study more effectively. By using your quiz-making platform you can build an interactive tool that simultaneously helps students identify their gaps in knowledge, point them in the right direction, and assess them at the same time! Here’s a very simple example of such a quiz:
In our “American History Easy Study Prep” quiz, we’ll let students pick which area they need help with the most. Already this presents an opportunity for students to identify their own knowledge gaps without having to review the entire curriculum.
This is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can do with a branching scenarios quiz. To see how complex and sophisticated a branching scenarios quiz can be, check out the Patient Management quiz by Smart Builder.
On the surface, it seems like a very basic quiz, but in actuality it’s a scenario-based learning simulator designed to help train nurses in their diagnostic and treatment skills. Learners are taken through a variety of scenarios where they get to apply their knowledge and start thinking critically about their decisions.
Really take some time to experiment with what you can achieve with a branching scenarios quiz and you’ll be surprised at the results.
Generally speaking, there are two types of assessments that teachers can use: formative assessments and summative assessments.
Unlike your traditional summative assessments, the main goal of a formative quiz is to provide teachers with important feedback about their students before they start the lesson.
A classic mistake that many new teachers make is not realizing that their students don’t fully understand a topic until it’s far too late. After spending an hour talking about integers, exponents, and rational numbers, it might only be until the end of the class that a teacher becomes aware of the glassy eyes and indifferent expressions.
By getting students to complete an online quiz before the class even starts, teachers are able to get a much more accurate gauge of their students’ knowledge and adjust accordingly. These types of quizzes can be instrumental in making sure that each lesson is as effective as possible, and that you’re not skipping over any topics that your students may need more time with.
Unlike your traditional pen-and-paper quizzes, online quizzes are much more effective for formative assessment because results are automatically graded and instantly viewable for teachers. This simple feature not only saves hours of grading time for the teacher, but it also allows them to modify their lesson.
To make the most of your formative quizzes—and to prevent them from becoming overly monotonous and repetitive—it’s recommended that you keep your quizzes short, with no more than five to eight questions at a time.
The most well-designed formative quizzes include questions that cover key points from previous lessons—even ones from previous semesters—as well as questions about concepts they might not yet understand. This is essential in building that initial sense of curiosity within each learner and helps them start making connections between old and new concepts all on their own. This way, by the time you start class, learners are already in the right frame of mind.
PRO TIP: To keep the pressure off, it’s recommended that formative quizzes be ungraded and that the correct answers not be shared with students until the end of the class. Students will learn the correct answer throughout the lesson and can analyze their own answers upon completion.
A problem that many educators are running into these days with remote learning is around the question: How can I encourage my students to develop positive studying habits?
In a world where teachers have even more limited interaction with their students than usual, how can teachers motivate students to continue learning as soon as the camera is turned off? After all, realistically speaking, it’s hard to imagine students not getting distracted in their own home.
A potential solution for educators is to start designing open-book quizzes.
This might be a bit of a contentious topic depending on what your personal teaching philosophy is, with some educators decrying it as nothing more than an exercise in cheating. However, there are definitely merits to open-book tests and quizzes, especially when it comes to developing student confidence and reinforcing positive study habits.
While it’s true that students aren’t practicing information retention and recall with an open-book quiz, it is teaching them how to study and research effectively in their own time.
One study by the USAF Academy concluded that students who took open-book exams were more likely to actively engage with the material, and were more confident at tackling difficult concepts and topics. Another study by the University of Tennessee found that open-book tests and quizzes promoted higher-order thinking skills and taught students to do more than simply just memorize bits of text.
By assigning open-book quizzes, either in class or as homework, teachers are able to provide their students with an engaging and low-pressure opportunity to hone their research skills and encourage deeper learning.
PRO TIP: The key to designing an effective open-book quiz is making sure you’re asking questions that test a student’s ability to analyze, evaluate, and apply their knowledge. To achieve this, the University of Newcastle recommends asking Socratic questions in accordance with Bloom’s Taxonomy:
One of the biggest challenges with remote learning is the ability to build that ever-important sense of community. For many students—especially younger ones—not being able to see their friends and talk to their teachers can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Which is why it’s so important that teachers design activities that allow their students to feel connected with one another, and why I’m personally such a huge fan of classroom trivia.
A fun Zoom quiz is a very easy way for teachers to help students feel that sense of connection and help them learn at the same time.
Using your quiz-making platform, create a basic answer sheet for each student to use. From there, put on your best trivia-host hat and play a fun trivia game with each student following along with their own answering sheet.
To make it even more collaborative, break students up into small teams using Zoom’s “breakout room” feature. This way, students are given the opportunity to collaborate and figure out what the correct answer is together as a group.
To further encourage that sense of collaboration and connection, construct your trivia game into different phases like the one suggested by teacher blogger Theresa Wills.
In the first phase, you can split students up into pairs and have them work together to answer the most simple questions, giving them time to get comfortable with communicating. After that’s over, go into the next phase with four to five students in a group and ask more complex and open-ended questions.
In the final phase, with everyone now in the right mindset for discussion, teachers can increase the group size to ten students per group and assign a higher-level project with everyone working together.
Of course, this is only one of many different types of virtual games you can play with your students. I highly encourage you to this awesome list of games you can play over Zoom.
In their seminal book, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning, memory researcher Pooja Agarwal and teacher Patrice Bain make a very strong case for encouraging deeper learning by teaching students how to ask the right questions.
Drawing upon years of research, the authors argue that many traditional teaching techniques don’t do enough to promote long-lasting learning. One study found that learning strategies like reviewing notes and taking practice tests were the most ineffectual at aiding memory retention and information recall, only providing students with a superficial understanding of the material.
Instead, learners are far better off when they’re asked to use learning strategies that require more cognitive effort, encouraging them to process the same information in a different context. A great exercise for doing this is to have them create their own questions.
Student-generated questions are fantastic for promoting deeper learning precisely because they challenge learners to do more than just memorize the information. By asking them to generate their own questions, students are forced to consider how different concepts connect to one another, why an answer is right or wrong, and to reflect on their own knowledge.
Split your class up into pairs and have them design a quiz for their partner. Tools like Interact quiz maker make it incredibly easy for anyone to design their own quiz within minutes!
Or, if you have younger students that need more supervision, develop an entirely new quiz together as a class, which the students will then take at the end of the lesson. Start the activity by having your students craft simple true/false questions before moving on to multiple-choice questions that require more analysis. Challenge them to create difficult questions that require more open-ended answers, all while helping them understand why certain questions are better than others.
This is an excellent activity for having your students critically engage with the material, as well as encouraging collaborative discussion among the students. Plus, having students create their own quiz questions and answers is a great way for teachers to gauge student knowledge without giving them a more straightforward assessment.
Right now, teachers need all the help they can get.
With remote learning becoming the norm, educational quizzes are proving to be one of the best tools any teacher can use for the virtual classroom. Regardless if you’re looking to encourage collaboration, deeper learning, or critical thinking, the right quiz can do all that and more!
The advantages of digital quizzes cannot be understated. Every learner can benefit from regular quizzing.