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Seven Instructional Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Know, Part 5: Quizzing
posted by: Melissa | July 06, 2016, 02:28 PM   


Over the past couple of months, we’ve been doing a series on our blog about seven essential teaching strategies that have been identified by the IES as being grounded in research, flexible, and easily accessible for every teacher, no matter what they teach or what resources they have.  In some cases, this has meant trying something completely new, while in others it has just meant applying a tried and true strategy in a different way.  The strategy that we’re looking at today falls into the latter category.


Every teacher gives their students a quiz from time to time.  It is one of the constants of teaching.  How else will you know whether or not students have learned the material?  And that is the reason that most teachers give them.  Quizzes are viewed as a way of evaluating learning that has happened in the past, but the IES wants teachers to view quizzes not just as a way to test prior knowledge, but also as a way to promote learning.

There are specifically two ways that quizzes can be used to promote learning in the classroom.  First, they can work as a prelearning activity to draw attention to the material that is about to be taught.  Many teachers already incorporate some form of this through the use of “bell ringers,” “do nows,” or similar activities.  Quizzes like this can ask questions that will be taught that day, drawing the student’s attention to the most important concept.  They can also be used as a way to activate prior knowledge and have students recall information that they’ve already learned in a previous lesson but will be needed to understand that day’s materials.

The second way that quizzes can be used is as a method to cement already learned material into long-term memory.  The very act of recalling a memory or fact helps to cement and reinforce the neural pathways that make up the storage of that fact.  So every time that we force a student to remember something correctly, we are helping them push it into long-term memory.

The problem with this, of course, is that the student has to remember the fact correctly.  This means that the old tried and true paper and pencil quiz that many teachers give may not be the best way to quiz as a way to reinforce learning.  A better way may be something much more appealing: a game.  Quiz games like Jeopardy, Family Feud, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire are common in classrooms and provide a mode of quizzing that provides automatic feedback, making sure that it’s the correct fact that is stored not the incorrect one.  Another promising practice is the use of software and computer quizzes to provide students with immediate feedback after a quiz.

What fun ways do you use to quiz your students?
Share below.

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