Four types of online quiz and how to use them

Quizzes aren’t just for testing knowledge. They also encourage students to recall their course material, apply it and reflect on the feedback they’re given, whichin turn prompts learning. This is known as the testing effect’ and there’s plenty of research (including a paper by Roediger and Karpicke (2006)) that explores it.

Use our quick tips to explore how quizzes can build understanding and when to use a quiz for maximum impact.

  1. Diagnostic quizzes
    Include a diagnostic quiz at the start of your course to give students the opportunity to self-assess their skills and knowledge. You can use feedback to prompt students to reflect on whether they’re ready for the course, which topics they might want to review and/or to direct them to preparation materials.
  2. Consolidation quizzes
    Use consolidation quizzes at the end of blocks of study to prompt students to review on the material they’ve covered. You can also use them to break up material into small chunks, providing students with an opportunity to think back on a recent topic.  You should aim to give formative feedback (feedback that prompts students reflect on their learning and redirects them to materials they need to review). Consolidation quizzes should be low stakes: their aim is to encourage students to think about their learning, not to assess their knowledge formally.
  3. Formative assessment
    Use formative quizzes as part of your assessment strategy. Like consolidation quizzes, they’re designed to check students’ understanding and provide formative feedback, but unlike consolidation quizzes, they focus on evaluating students’progress towards the course learning outcomes rather than a section of material. Consider keeping them low- or no stakes to encourage students to benefit from reflecting on their progress without being penalised.
  4. Summative assessment
    Summative assessments are end-of-course quizzes or assessments that check whether students have reached the learning outcomes. As with other kinds of quiz, it’s important to provide feedback – especially as students may not engage with this material again for a while. Make sure feedback addresses any misconceptions and signposts to other helpful material.

Managing student workload in distance education

In an online classroom, learners engage with materials at their own pace. This helps them develop independent learning skills, but it can also make it tricky to manage workload.

As a result, they may fall behind or become overloaded.
Use our tips to make sure workload is consistent and clear, and that students learn to manage their time effectively.

Plan: Save time tomorrow by planning today
When designing your teaching, plan how long you expect students to spend on each section. While doing this, try and account not just for the activities, but also for reading the content, watching videos, interpreting diagrams and so on. You may find this helps keep your own writing focused, and reduces the need to trim excess material later.

Split time: Make space for self-directed study
Independent learning is as important as teacher-directed learning, giving students the space to reflect, explore and find their own connections to a subject. Give students a recommended split between the time they should engage with directed material and self-directed study each week both to protect it, and highlight its importance.

Keep it consistent: Try and stick to a consistent workload each week.
Giving students the opportunity to fit their study around their lives is a key advantage of distance education, and it’s much easier for them to do this if they know what to expect from week to week. It will also make it easier for them to prioritise the ‘core’ directed learning if life throws up any unexpected surprises.

Make things predictable: Break it up
Create small and manageable chunks Breaking the overall learning journey up into small but meaningful chunks of learning gives students a regular sense of reward for completion and promotes better engagement.

Clarify: Make expectations clear
Be upfront with students about how long you expect them to spend on an activity. ‘Write your thoughts on X’ could be the difference betweena few bullet points and an essay, depending on the person. By being clear with your instructions and expectations you can be more confident that students will engage with your material in the ways you intend.

Level up: Scaffold towards self-management
Introduce students to tools and methods of managing their workloads, and consider building this into your teaching. It will pay dividends as students prepare for assessment, and time management and planning are also great employability skills to develop.

Inclusive curriculum: The Open University’s three principles

The Open University’s mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We have a similar role as learning designers: we’re committed to meeting the needs of all students.

Inclusive curriculum is at the heart of this. Here are the three principles developed by the OU’s Access, Participation and Success team to guide curriculum development.

  1. Ensure all students can access the curriculum by:
    Checking that all material uses inclusive language, and that new and complex terms are clearly explained. A glossary is useful.
  2. Ensure that all students see themselves reflected by:
    Drawing from sources that reflect a wide range of diversity
    Allowing students to bring in their diverse experiences and backgrounds to contribute to the learning and assessment activities.
  3. Ensure students are equipped to participate in a diverse world by:
    Exposing them to a range of culturally challenging opinions and contexts
    Providing structured opportunities to build understanding of and respect
    for diversity and the contribution diversity makes in an international context.

Five ways the learning design team focuses on students’ needs

Students are at the heart of learning design. Part of the role of the learning design team is to explore students’ needs through data and research. We then work with module authors and other colleagues to to advise
on how these needs can be met.

  1. Curriculum design student panel
    Our student panel now has nearly 3,000 members. They provide feedback on activities, tools and learning materials so that our course teams can design for students’ real experiences.
  2. Building student profiles
    We provide data and research to help module teams design student profiles that capture students’ goals and challenges. They can refer to these throughout module development to ensure they’re addressing students’ needs.
  3. Student experience workshops
    We work with module teams to help them reflect on students’ perspectives and what support and resources students might need to succeed.
  4. Real-time student feedback
    We advise module teams on how to gather student feedback while courses are live. They can then respond to students’ comments immediately and in future courses.
  5. Student-focused scholarship
    We carry out research into students’ needs and perspectives so that we can share these (often via our blog) with module teams and learning design teams outside The Open University.