SOTL: Test Early, Test Often, Test Small, Test Twice

Jeff Offutt

Session Information

Year: 2018 | Time: 1:00pm-2:30pm | Location: SCHOLARSHIP OF TEACHING & LEARNING (SoTL) LIGHTNING TALK 4 & ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: Johnson Center (Room B)

Abstract

Note: This talk is part of a single SoTL session that runs from 1-2:30pm in JC Room B and includes a series of "lightning talks" that are ~5 minutes each followed by a roundtable discussion about the projects and SoTL in general. This is a great session for those interested in learning the outcomes of SoTL efforts, those interested in how to start their own SoTL project, and for experienced researchers who are interested in learning about other approaches and methodologies.

BRIEF SESSION DESCRIPTION:

Many educators claim that students perform better and learn more when tested frequently and given frequent detailed feedback. I have taken this to the extreme by replacing traditional midterm exams with weekly (test often, test often), 10-15 minute (test small), quizzes. I have found that students learn more, retain more, and get better grades when given weekly quizzes than when given one long midterm. I also found additional benefits, including more student engagement and better attendance. In the talk, I will discuss strategies for managing the quizzes and retakes (including special purpose support software I developed), discuss some of the benefits, and provide a handout to summarize key points.

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FULL ABSTRACT:

Many educators claim that students perform better and learn more when tested frequently and given frequent detailed feedback. I have taken this to the extreme by replacing traditional midterm exams with weekly (test often, test often), 10-15 minute (test small), quizzes. I have found that students learn more, retain more, and get better grades when given weekly quizzes than when given one long midterm. I also found additional benefits, including more student engagement and better attendance.

More recently, the SPARC project taught me that students learn more if given multiple chances, with feedback, to complete programming assignments. They are also more likely to get their programs to work and finish sooner. I applied this approach to the weekly quizzes by giving second chances (test twice). If a student misses or does poorly on a quiz, the student can retake a different quiz that covers the same material and is approximately the same level of difficulty. In three courses, both graduate and undergraduate, I found that some students significantly increase their performance in class, and they learn more. The retakes seem to particularly help international students. In the talk, I will discuss strategies for managing the quizzes and retakes (including special purpose support software I developed), discuss some of the benefits, and provide a handout to summarize key points.

•Instead of a single full-class length midterm exam, give weekly 10-minute quizzes.

•Students will keep engaged and attend class.

•After initial doubts, most students will be more engaged, learn more, and enjoy the class more.

•Retaking quizzes allows students to recognize what they don’t know, learn it, then demonstrate that learning.

•Quiz retakes help students who have particularly low and particularly high self-efficacy.

•Although this adds extra work to the teacher, I have some techniques to reduce the work.

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