The Take-Out Quiz

This idea comes from a friend who teaches developmental English at a community college:

Students have a specified amount of time to complete a low-stakes quiz; for example, 20 or 30 minutes. They are allowed to consult fellow students and can use books, phones, or the internet. They can even take the quizzes out of the room to work in the hallway or the library. The only rule is that they must turn in their quizzes at the end of the specified time period.

In my friend’s experience, students do not score 100 percent on the quizzes. In fact, they tend to score about the same as they do on closed-book quizzes taken solo. Students who do the readings and take notes in class do well, while those who don’t know the material invariably try to copy answers from the wrong people.

The classroom dynamic produced by take-out quizzes is unpredictable. Some students opt to work alone whether they are quiet in class or not. Students who choose to work in groups can self-sort according to academic ability, but you might see the usually shy student become extroverted within the group when he or she advocates for an answer that he or she believes is correct.

The main advantage of the take-out quiz is that it gets students engaged with the material in a different way than lecture or the traditional independently-taken, closed-book quiz. It also rewards the students who do homework.

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