Guest blogger John Kleeman, Chairman of Microsoft Partner, Questionmark, describes the advantages of frequent online assessments.
What are the advantages of giving your students frequent quizzes and tests, instead of waiting until the end of a module or course? At first sight, this might sound like more work for you as instructor, not to mention less popularity with your students!
Here are seven reasons why it helps:
- By looking at assessment results, instructors know whether students have learned — and what action to take if they haven’t. If the whole cohort achieves low scores on a topic, you know you need to improve or redo some teaching, and if individuals score low, there is an opportunity for remediation or other intervention, preventing a drop-out or eventual failure.
- Students can also gauge their progress and know what areas they do well or less well in and where to focus study. Especially if you include feedback with your assessment, they can learn where they went wrong and recover from misconceptions.
- Early tests require students to study earlier, not just wait to cram before the final exam. There is solid psychological evidence (see for example this excellent report by Dr Will Thalheimer) that spacing out learning is a powerful learning aid. By spreading out studying time, you increase learning.
- You have more data points to give fairer final grades and if learners are ill and miss some exams, you have evidence of achievement to help provide a grade.
- Cheating is harder if tests are frequent. For example, a student might impersonate another in one exam, but this is much harder to do so in weekly tests.
- As I shared in my earlier guest blog here, taking each test gives retrieval practice, which helps students retain information for the long term. Whenever students take a quiz or test, it directly helps them learn.
- There is increasing peer-reviewed, research evidence (see for example here, here, here, here and here) that in courses with frequent quizzes or tests, results and learning are better.
With widespread Windows PCs and other devices, and increasingly reliable Internet connectivity, technology now allows universities and colleges to give online assessments to students frequently and routinely not just at end of courses. Setting up tests and quizzes as an instructor is relatively easy in most institutions with institution provided assessment systems. User interfaces are simple and don’t need much computer knowledge, like for instance the question type selection page shown below.
If you’re interested in delivering online assessments in this way, Questionmark (www.questionmark.com) offers an easy-to-use OnDemand service (using Microsoft technology) to create, deliver and report on assessments.