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I hate giving quizzes September 23, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, engineering, teaching.
Tags: , ,

This year, I chose to use a textbook for my class.  The problem is that while the textbook has a lot of good content, I use the class time to focus in on topics that I think are really important while assuming the students will at least skim through the remaining material.

I think I was delusional.  Like, seriously losing it…

I hate the idea of doing it, but I figured I needed to give them some incentive to read the book.  I therefore implemented reading quizzes this semester.  I can’t remember where I came across the idea (it may have been back on The Mind of Dr. Pion, but it was so long ago that I don’t honestly remember).

The first reading quiz consisted of them writing what they thought was the most interesting thing they read in the chapter.

The second one was multiple choice.  I posted a series of four pictures.  I asked them to identify the one that came from that week’s reading.  All they had to do was write a single letter…and honestly, if they thought carefully about it, they could have determined which picture it was simply through process of elimination.  Several students said this quiz was unfair…though I’m not sure how.

I’m rather disappointed as it seems that around half of them aren’t passing these quizzes.  I’m not asking them to read things in depth, and the book isn’t very technical at all, but I would like them to be exposed to the information in case they come back to it later.  I also don’t want to hammer them over the head with it.  It has occurred to me that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar, but it feels like any attemps in that direction will probably border on bribery.

I’m very much at a loss.  I have told them they need to pass two out of four quizzes, and some of them are getting nervous.  I don’t want to make them panic, but I do want them to take this more seriously.  I’ve told them that students who focus on their grades do worse than students who focus on content…but that’s hard to listen to when you’re worried about your grade.



1. karifur - September 24, 2013

I don’t think it’s unfair to give students a quiz on the reading material to demonstrate that they actually did the reading. Lots of my classes in college did something similar.
However, it is possible that the questions you asked are simply not something that matched the learning style of the students who complained. My son for example would probably be incapable of answering either of those questions. He probably wouldn’t notice the pictures when doing the reading, or would be unlikely to remember them, and as someone who takes instructions very literally he would probably skip it if he didn’t recognize the photo by sight. As for the other question, he really struggles with open-ended questions like these and would probably have a complete block.
I personally don’t see the issue with the quiz you provided, but I can see the potential student’s side of it. On the other hand, you must remind yourself that no matter what you do there will ALWAYS be a student or two who complain about whatever it is you choose to do in close. ALWAYS. Nothing you can do about that.


2. The Minion - September 24, 2013

Filter them out early!


mareserinitatis - September 25, 2013

I think that is happening, whether I intended it or not.


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