Quizzes, Tests, and Surveys

A classic tool of assessment.

What is it?

Tests  and quizzes can be used on a module (or lesson) basis or to serve as a mid-term or final assessment. Regular quizzing within a weekly module can motivate students to master some simple but essential material. Many online quizzing tools are able to offer students   multiple attempts at a quiz, allowing students to try, recognize errors, and retry to cement their learning. The truth is that most student learning when it comes to quizzes and tests is in the studying leading up to that assessment. Support your students’ learning by offering study materials and giving tips on where they should focus and how they might study.

If you are using Blackboard or another learning management system, there are a many different question types available that provide a template for questions you may want to ask in a test or quiz. Some question types are better suited for auto-grading (True/False, Multiple Choice, Matching, Multiple Answer, and others). Correct and incorrect comments can be given for immediate feedback to students, which can be especially helpful if students are allowed multiple attempts. Sample answers for short answer questions can be given as a “correct” answer but the instructor will have to assign points for this type of question.

Many tools that enable testing also allow you to survey students. This is true in Blackboard and also works in reverse — a tool like Google Forms, often used for surveying, can also be used for quizzes!  Surveys are usually submitted anonymously and can be used as reflection activities, to take polls, or as a way to gather data to use in other activities with students.

How Can I Use Tests, Quizzes, and Surveys in My Course?

Tests, quizzes, and surveys are helpful for you as a teacher to track where students are at — are they getting what you expect them to? As far as student learning, tests and surveys are most helpful when you make them complex, using strategies like allowing multiple attempts and asking short answer questions that really force students to think and make connections on their own.

Another option for creating complexity is to use “question pools.”  This allows you to create tests that pull random questions from the pool, so every time a student accesses the test a different question set is created. This is helpful when you give students the option to take a review test multiple times as review, as well as a mechanism to prevent students sharing answers. Many publishers create question pools that you can quickly upload into Blackboard or another LMS. Look for a file that is zipped (.zip).  DO NOT unzip the file before uploading it to your LMS.

Here are some more creative ways to use tests, quizzes, and surveys in your course:

  • Use random question pools to create review quizzes before an exam. Allow multiple attempts so students get a  variety of questions. Be sure to provide incorrect feedback to supplement the learning process.
  • Create a pre-test at the being of the lesson to test for student’s prior knowledge and to give students an idea of what is to come. Test again at the end of the lesson to test for growth.
  • Use a combination of auto-graded and needs graded questions for a summative exam.
  • Create single question exercises to check for understanding.
  • Use the short answer or essay question type to create reading response homework worksheets or for student reflection assignments.
  • Create a survey to get an overall course perspective on how students feel the course is going and to evaluate the course design or course teaching.
  • Use a combination of quizzing and adaptive release to get students to a specific competency level for understanding or applying  a concept.

“How To” Instructions:

Considerations for Online Courses

If you’re teaching an online course, you should consider the reason for assigning a quiz or test. Is it important that the quiz be proctored by a responsible party to authenticate the student and /or to limit the resources the students uses to complete the exam? Is it necessary to have a due date on the exam so that students complete the exam by a certain time/date. Will you allow for quizzes to be completed after that due date? Would it benefit the student to be able to take the quiz multiple times? And if so, do you show the correct answers to the student or just let them know which questions they get wrong? Should the quiz be set up with a timer so students are restricted in how much time it takes? Do some students need special accommodations?

All of these considerations and more can be addressed through the quizzing  options.

Research Foundations

Daniel, D. B., & Broida, J. (2004). Using web-based quizzing to improve exam performance: Lessons learned. Teaching of Psychology, 31(3), 207-208.

Orr, R., & Foster, S. (2013). Increasing student success using online quizzing in introductory (majors) biology. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 509-514.

Watch: How to create a random block of test questions

Further Resources