Discussion-Based Quizzes

Alternative title: Stuff Just Happens, a persistent student mental paradigm that I’ve written about before (here and here).

I’m teaching an undergraduate introduction to research methods course this semester, for which I created a series of practice quizzes that contribute nothing to the final course grade. I expected the quizzes, which range from one to three questions, to function as retrieval practice and launch pads for class discussion. This is the same idea behind polling students to check their comprehension while lecturing, but I used the Canvas LMS quiz tool instead of a polling platform because 1) I was too lazy to learn the latter, and 2) I wanted all course content housed in one place.

The activity is not working as well as I thought it would, for a few reasons. First, Canvas identifies the correct answer to each question when displaying quiz results, as shown below, which shuts down discussion about which option is correct and why. A pie chart that doesn’t label the correct answer would work better — i.e., Google Forms.

Second, this is a small class that meets at 8:00 a.m. The quantity and quality of discussion declines markedly when only a few students are absent, which is usually the case.

But most importantly, given their answers to the quiz questions, students are still having a lot of difficulty forming plausible and potentially valid causal inferences from the data that I present. I’ve given six practice quizzes so far, and on average students answer questions correctly only about 50% of the time. Here is a typical example from a prior quiz:

Based on the visual representation of data below, a logical hypothesis is:

2 Replies to “Discussion-Based Quizzes”

    1. Yes. I do not select the “Let Students See Their Quiz Responses (Incorrect Questions Will Be Marked in Student Feedback)” option when creating the quiz. However, this only affects students when they are taking the quiz. It has no effect on what is displayed when I go to “Quiz Statistics.”

      If you are referring to some other feature when accessing quiz results, I don’t know about it.

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