A lot of people on Twitter have recently been talking about the importance of mini-quizzes and how they are carried out. I’ve been working on a little program to help me out with this and you’re more than welcome to use it.

RR

What it is

A simple Excel program that uses a list of questions and answers to generate a random 10 question quiz. You can set it to ask 5 questions from any point in the course and 5 questions from the current topic (this is what I do).

How I use it

For each topic I write flashcards on Quizlet in question and answer form. The cards are lean and focussed to only have the material necessary and nothing extraneous (occasionally I include practice questions for improving procedural technique). I print off a PDF with all the questions and answers and give it to students at the beginning of a unit. I tell them that all my verbal questions will be based on them and they are expected to begin learning them off by heart and referring to them in their verbal and written answers.

Every three lessons, the class receives a mini quiz generated by the Roulette. I display the questions on the board, give them ten minutes to answer in the back of their books and then peer assess. Students collate their score /5 for the first five questions a score /5 for the second five. Each student receives a small piece of paper which they fold in half. On the outside they write their name, and on the inside they write the two numbers /5. I take these in and record them.

(At the beginning of the year there are only a few questions and a high likelihood of repeated questions. You can hit F9 to refresh the questions. As time goes on the likelihood decreases massively*).

Sometimes (trying to do this more) I will ask students to raise their hands if they got Q1 right, then Q2 etc. I’ll pick a Q that many of them got wrong and then do some boardwork trying to clear up any misunderstanding.

Strengths:

  • Retrieval practice
  • Interleaved/spaced practice
  • Easy to use
  • No macros (so doesn’t crash for no reason)
  • Can gather quite a bit of data on the students re their performance
  • High success rate is possible: all the questions and answers are available to them
  • In time I will make it available to parents who can support their children revise effectively
  • Investment: can be used for many years to come (hopefully)

Weaknesses:

  • No diagram questions
  • No multiple choice questions
  • Relies (to an extent) on effective peer-assessment

The link below has the Roulette set up for where I am up to with my current year 10’s. I will periodically update it here with new questions if people let me know that they are interested.

Retrieval roulette

Feel free to use it or not – let me know if you have any thoughts! I’d especially like to hear from people who are looking at something like this for a non-science subject.

UPDATE 26/05/17

Following discussions with people on Twitter and my own experimentation in class I’ve added tabs with an option for an 8 and 6 question quiz. I’ve found that a 10 question one can take 25/30 minutes which can eat away at your lesson time. It’s a very difficult balance in terms of how to spend your lesson time but this at least will give you the option.

*I don’t think Excel can give random values that don’t repeat without a macro, which I don’t want to use for ease.

NB Matthew Benyohai pointed out a couple of errors in the questions which is super embarrassing. Oh well – will sort out tomorrow. NB have now edited the questions and re-uploaded with a load more of them

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