Using quizzes to improve exam scores

Patrick McElroy

Session Information

Year: 2016 | Time: 1:00pm-2:30pm | Location: Innovation Hall (Room 103) Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) Lightning Talk & Roundtable Session


This session will begin with an overview of the testing effect, i.e., the phenomena of retrieval having a positive effect on long-term memory, the testing effect has been demonstrated in a variety of different classroom settings across a range of disciplines. Multiple studies have found that quizzing generally improves long-term retention, and this effect can be enhanced by different quiz formats. Specifically, fill-in-the-blank quizzes result in higher multiple-choice exam scores than multiple-choice quizzes on the same material (examples include McDaniel, Anderson, Derbish, and Morrissette, 2007; Birenbaum, 2007; and Roediger & Marsh, 2005). We will then report on research we’ve conducted at George Mason University on the effect of an intermediate quiz type – fill-in with word bank. The session will continue with a discussion of possible new directions for the current study. The session will conclude with a discussion of the ways instructors from multiple disciplines can incorporate quizzes into their own classes to help their students retain and recall information more effectively.


Birenbaum, M. (2007). Assessment and instruction preferences and their relationship with test anxiety and learning strategies. Higher Education, 53(6), 749-768.


McDaniel, M.A., Anderson, J.L., Derbish, M.H., & Morrisette, N. (2007). Testing the testing effect in the classroom. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19(405), 494-513.


Roediger III, H.L., & Marsh, E.J. (2005). The Positive and Negative Consequences of Multiple-Choice Testing. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 31(5), 1155-1159.



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