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This simple ungraded quiz idea, one that can be used to test how much your students have actually understood by the end of a teaching session, has been adapted from (or, if you’re a stickler for accuracy, shamelessly half-inched) the University of Waterloo’s “Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE)”.

The reason I don’t feel bad about this – apart from the fact I am literally without shame – is that the idea itself just a simple variation on the Exit Ticket quizzes popular in American – and increasingly UK – schools and colleges.

Be that as it may, like all good ideas it’s very simple and although it will involve a little more preparation than some other forms of feedback the information gathered will be worth the extra effort.

The basic idea here is that, near the end of each class, students take a short quiz designed to test, at a very basic level, how much they’ve understood about the work they’ve just done. You should, however, make it clear that the test is diagnostic: its purpose is to inform your teaching not to grade your students with passes and fails (which is why the CTC calls the quizzes ungraded tests).

The only interest you have in their answers is to help you understand what parts of the lesson were clearly understood and which aspects may need more work or explanation. The test is just a simple way to do this while everything is still fresh in their minds (or not, as the case may be).

Format

You will need to prepare a number of quiz questions and the Quick Quiz Answer Form I’ve created has space for 8 answers. In general, around 4 or 5 questions max. should be sufficient, depending on the length and complexity of the lesson. This, however, is something you can play by ear until the Quick Quiz sessions have bedded-down and you can gauge the usefulness of the information you’re getting from the quiz. You may, for example, find you need to ask fewer questions once you’ve refined your quiz-setting prowess.

If you want to explore different templates and style variations in the “Exit Ticket” format Pinterest has a good selection – or simply search for them online.

1. Use your Lesson Plan as a guide to construct a small number of questions that your students can answer in 5 or 10 minutes (for the first couple of times you run a Quick Quiz you’ll have less time for the test itself while you explain everything to your students. Once they get used to the idea of an end-of-lesson quiz you’ll be able to give them more time to answer the questions if they need it). Not only will this cut-down your preparation time, it has the added bonus of helping you match your quiz questions to your lesson objectives.

When creating quiz questions it’s important to keep in mind you’re not looking to test anything more than a broad level of understanding. Consequently, the questions should be kept short, to the point and capable of being answered succinctly. You don’t want students writing reams when one or two words will do.

For example, if one of your learning objectives is that students should have understood a particular concept, theory or method, give them the definition you used in the lesson and ask them to identify it.

In this respect use something like: “Which research method involves the researcher secretly joining the group they are observing to study them over a long period of time?” rather than: “What is meant by covert participant observation?”.

Although both questions serve the same basic purpose, the first format makes it much easier for you to quickly see how many students have understood the lesson – or parts thereof – and whether or not you need to go over the material again in a different way.

How you present the students with your questions is a matter of personal taste but projecting them onto a screen (or some variation thereof) means you don’t have to spend class time writing them out…

2. To use the quiz to inform your teaching, students need to complete it during the class. If you allow them to complete it outside the classroom they may be tempted to use their notes, textbooks, etc. to make sure they “get the questions right” – and that, as you will have been at pains to point-out, would defeat the purpose of the exercise.

3. As with the other forms of feedback we’ve previously posted, the quiz can be anonymous. However, if you want to target classroom time and resources on students who are struggling with particular areas of the course being able to identify them via the Quick Quiz format might be useful.

4. Although the students are not given the “results” of their quiz (it’s ungraded…) you should report back to the class about their answers. You might, for example, what to highlight what they’ve understood, what areas might need more work and how you plan to resolve problems that have arisen.

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