Hello, it’s Monday again and time for another blog!

Over the summer, we have been covering different aspects of getting ready for teaching in September 2020. We have previously looked at the following:

This week, we look at quizzes in education. The benefits. Question types that can be posed. Some advice for writing questions and tools available at Queen’s for setting up quizzes.

Let’s get started!

What is a quiz?

Historically, quizzes were used as games to test knowledge on a specific topic. Many people will be familiar with pub quizzes or quiz nights arranged for fun, even though there’s a competitive element attached.

Quizzes have evolved in education with the purpose of assessing students. Assessment can be used to measure the levels of ability, knowledge and/or skills a person has.

Students can use quizzes as self-knowledge checks (ungraded). Self-knowledge checks can be created weekly or toward the end of a block of learning. This allows students to gauge the level of learning and focus their studies.

Quizzes can be used in formative (mid-way assessment with feedback to help students direct their studies) and summative assessment as well (end of module/course feedback).

Here’s another quick use for quizzes. They can be set up as surveys (ungraded) to collect feedback from students on teaching, facilities, etc.

Benefits of quizzes in education

In education, quizzes are a set of questions that can be posed to check for understanding and to give students feedback on their performance. This helps students gauge their level of learning and may provide motivation for students to want to perform better.

Some benefits of quizzes include:

  1. Student learning. Regular quizzes help students study more frequently.
  2. Study rates increase post-quiz. Quizzes help students identify what they do and don’t know. Quizzes can help students focus their attention on materials they need to spend more time on.
  3. Retention of information. Reading around a subject is useful to digest information. However, reading and then taking a quiz is more effective for retaining information.
  4. Feedback to teachers. Teachers can review all results to see how a class is performing. If some of students struggle, assistance can be offered. If the whole class under performs, this can identify knowledge gaps and teaching required.
  5. Confidence levels. Students’ confidence levels can increase which may encourage students to participate in discussions and other activities.
  6. Attendance increase. In-class quizzes help increase attendance rates, especially if the quiz is graded.
Question types

There are many question types available for many quiz tools (Canvas, Quizlet, Kahoot, Mentimeter, MS Forms, etc.). You need to check what types of questions you want to offer and whether that question type is fit for purpose AND available for the quiz tool you decide to use.

Consider what you are assessing. You may be assessing:

  • Knowledge
  • Ability
  • Skills
  • Higher order / critical thinking, etc.

Some question types include:

  • Yes/No or True/False
  • Multiple choice or multiple response
  • Drop-down
  • Matching / drag and drop
  • Fill in the blank(s)
  • Essay

The above question types have advantages and disadvantages.

Yes/No and True/False questions may not be the best option for a whole quiz. Students who have not studied can achieve a reasonable result based on a 50% chance of getting each question correct. This can skew class information when it comes to checking for knowledge gaps and performance. Yes/No and True/False questions measure remembering / recalling information.

Multiple choice / multiple response questions can be used for problem-solving or higher order thinking skills. A quiz of MCQs allows for more questions to be asked. Students can focus on the content as they don’t need to formulate an answer. If the quiz is online, MCQs are quick and easy to mark and feedback can be instant, as can gathering student results.

Drop-down questions can be considered similar to MCQ/multiple response as there are a number of options available for the student to choose from.

Matching / drag and drop questions are more visually aesthetic. It might be you ask participants to match two pieces of information together, i.e., match flags to countries. Drag and drop questions can be used to sequence items in terms of importance or to drag items into larger graphics, i.e., placing symbols in the periodic table.

Fill in the blank(s) questions. These are typically sentence or phrases where a word is blanked out. This measures recall skills. The major disadvantage to this question type is inputting the answer. There may be multiple correct answers. If using this question type online, students need to type in the exact answer, else it shows up incorrect. This can be frustrating to learners.

Essay questions give students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding as well as skills and abilities. Writing/typing answers help develop writing skills. This question type allows students to formulate an answer. There is no 50% chance of choosing the correct answer as it requires study to take the exam. The major disadvantage is the time it takes to read and mark essay questions, feedback won’t be instant.

All the question types above (except essay questions) can allow immediate feedback to students after the quiz/assessment has been submitted. Feedback should not just be a score of how many points a student has achieved.

To make feedback meaningful and useful, add in feedback per correct and incorrect response (per question). Correct feedback responses should confirm learning and knowledge. Incorrect feedback responses should guide students towards materials they should be focusing on to improve their knowledge and understanding.

Writing questions

Give clear instructions to students to complete the quiz/assessment. How many questions they need to answer. The weighting per question (if applicable). The question type(s) used. The length of time to complete the quiz (if it’s timed) and whether it is self-assessment or graded.

For example:

Questions 1 – 10 are MCQs which are designed to assess your ability to remember fundamentals of this subject. Question 11-15 are essay questions designed to assess your critical thinking skills.

Please read each question carefully before answering. Be aware, some MCQ questions may have more than one correct answer. Please select the answer to each question and press submit to move onto the next question.

When writing questions, here is some helpful tips:

  • Multiple Choice/Multiple Response questions includes a stem (the question), the correct answer and a number of plausible wrong-answers. Keeps answer options around the same length.
  • Avoid incomplete statement format questions, i.e., Belfast is the capital of … ?
  • Use Direct Question formats, i.e., which city is the capital of Northern Ireland?
  • Avoid ‘All of the above’ and ‘none of the above’ responses (MCQ/response).
  • Avoid negative questions.
  • Avoid clues directing students to the answer.
Question banks

Canvas Quizzes and QuestionMark offer question banks and randomisation. This is particularly good for assessment. Question banks allow more questions to be stored than appear in the assessment.

If an assessment covers four themes, i.e., medicine, 10 questions per theme can be drawn from each subjects question bank. This promotes question randomisation. If students are sitting in close proximity, they can’t copy. Time limits per question can be used as well.

If the quiz is used as a knowledge check, students can take the quiz several times and benefit from a bigger range of questions to test their understanding. This promotes learning, recall and critical thinking.

Best practice

Some schools or departments within Queen’s university may have policies already available for writing assessment questions. This may be for MCQs, Single Best Answer or other question formats. Please check school / department policies before releasing an assessment and have colleagues peer review and give feedback on its effectiveness.

When creating quizzes for assessment or self-knowledge checks, it’s prudent to randomise questions. Answers may be randomised (check policy), although sometimes answers appear in alphabetical order (check policy).

It’s also helpful to create question banks. This allows assessments to draw upon a greater number of questions and it means no two students will have done the same assessment. Do measure question effectiveness, are they too easy or too hard?

Quiz tools available at Queen’s

At Queen’s University, here are some available quiz tools:

  • Canvas quiz
  • MS Forms
  • QuestionMark

For training on setting up quizzes in:

  • Canvas, staff can contact the Canvas Team for more information.
  • MS Forms and QuestionMark, Information Services at Queen’s regularly offer training.

Other options for quizzes include free web-based tools which can be used for self-knowledge checks or polls in live teaching, i.e., Kahoot, Mentimeter, Quizlet, etc. These quizzes help gauge a classes understanding in real-time. They are fun and give teachers instant feedback.


This week, we have covered a number of things regards quizzes. What they are. How they can be used in education as self-assessment or for graded assessment. We reviewed a number of question types for consideration and gave advice toward best practice.

Lastly, we mentioned a few tools available within your teaching toolkit at Queen’s University and where training is available within Queen’s.

These tools should allow you a level of automation. Assessments can be set asynchronously and published at certain dates/times for students to complete. Remember to give clear instructions to students throughout.

Next week

DigiKnow will look at simple editing of audio using Audacity. This assumes you have recorded audio or video (or will be recording) and want to use just the audio, either as:

  • A standalone podcast
  • Sound bites in your teaching (i.e., in slides, on canvas, etc.)

Please do join us next week to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published.