Frequent Quizzes Help Improve Grades of Struggling Students

By Gabrielle Williams ‘16 

Despite their reputation as a cruel tool of teachers intent on striking fear into the hearts of unprepared students, quizzes given early and often, maybe a student’s best friend when it comes to understanding and recalling information for the long haul.

“My interest is in making sure students learn that particular topic that is being taught and have control of their grades,” said Sean Sharpe who teaches chemistry. “Daily quizzes address that.”

A study by professors from the University of Texas published in PLOS One, shows students respond better to being graded on frequent quizzes than through midterms and final exams. Mr. Sharpe said the scientific journal’s results are true based on what he sees in his classroom.

Researchers studied 901 students at the University of Texas in an introductory psychology class. The students brought their laptops to class and took an online quiz daily. Researchers found that the average student scored half a letter grade higher than in previous semesters on exams with similar questions. The students who took daily quizzes were better prepared and received higher grades in the other classes they took during and after the tested class.

“When students are given quizzes after a lesson,” Sharpe said, “students are encouraged to keep up with work and focus more in class.” Frequent tests that cover many subjects cause ineffective studying at the last minute.

“My goal is not for students to cram as much information into their heads and forget it as soon as the exam is over,” said Lisa Wasserman, who teaches history at Brooklyn Tech High School. “I would like them to learn all of the material so they can remember it in a year, or whenever it’ll be useful. Daily quizzes facilitate better long term memory in general.”

“A couple of challenging exams don’t always accurately demonstrate a student’s knowledge of the material,” she said.

Ryanah Germany ‘16 said she recently failed a midterm in a class in which tests account for 80 percent of her final grade. Although, she studied a few hours a day for almost a week leading up to the exam, she failed, causing her score to drop by two letter grades.

“Examples are not necessarily an accurate reflection of students’ abilities,” Germany said. “Some kids just rock at cramming. Small assignment and quizzes help me as a student.”

Nicole Padilla ‘16 said she wished she had classes that gave quizzes frequently. “If you don’t do well, it really screws you over and you don’t really have a chance to bring your grade up,” she said. “Even if you do well on one exam, you don’t get a good grade in the class.”

The PLOS One study also revealed that taking daily quizzes leads to increasing attendance, as students have an added incentive to come to class.

At the University of Texas, the classes with daily quizzes reported 88.5 percent attendance in November. During the same month, 65.9 percent of students attended course sections that tested them based on the more traditional system.

“Students know there will be a direct consequence to them not coming to class and I certainly think attendance improved as a result,” Wasserman said.

Though a quiz every day in class sounds stressful, a quiz a day can actually keep bad grades away.

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