More thoughts on online quizzes to teach anthropology

Earlier in the term I blogged a few initial thoughts behind using online quizzes in my anthropology module. I’m coming to the end of this experiment now, and thought it would be a good time to reflect on some of the issues, before I do a survey to see what the students themselves thought.

Overall there haven’t been too many technical problems, although looking at the ‘grade centre’ I can see that some students are showing as ‘incomplete’ for one quiz, and that for some of these this is the only quiz they’ve tried. This may be because of technical issues or may be because they didn’t want to do the short answer question and so bailed on the whole test (hopefully the survey will pick up on this).

This may be related to how long the students are taking to complete the test and whether they are completing it in one sitting, something else I should be able to explore in the survey.

Another thought is that students have been completing the quizzes at the oddest times, late at night or the weekend. I didn’t give them a deadline and I’ve been checking once or twice a day to keep on top of the marking. I’m not sure if I’ll easily be able to extract this information from the VLE, or if it’s particularly relevant, but it is potentially interesting.

My online tests include 100 word questions to mirror one of the question formats in their end of course (offline!!) test, where students are asked to describe key terms in 100 words or so. For the online tests I have also given 100 words short answer questions, but the questions have mirrored in class discussion so that I can assess their understanding. I have given thousands of words of feedback on these answers and I will be interested to know if the students have accessed and reflected on this.

My final thought is about the marking for these questions. I had not given this much thought at the start, something I regret. In the end of course test the 100 word definitions are marked out of 8, and the full 8 marks are available, but in the online tests I’ve been marking the answers more as short essays (as the questions have been more essay-ish) and so I’ve been marking as I would in essays with 75ish as the top limit. Sometimes I’ve marked the answers out of 8, sometimes 10, sometimes 100. I don’t know at the moment if this has been confusing for the students, I should probably have been a lot clearer and more consistent at the start.


Screenshot of part of my gradebook

One big advantage of the tests so far has been that I have given whole class feedback at the start of each week, and this has been a good opportunity to recap the previous week’s topic and pick up on any issues that haven’t been fully understood, which is good practice anyway but it is nice that the quizzes have helped me do this in an informed way.


About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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