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How to flip your class with quizzes in 5 steps

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

Quizzes have long been used as a “stick” in education. Did you ever scramble at the warning from your own teachers during class,  “y’all better do your work…or else…I am going to give you a quiz!”

Of course, most educators use quizzes for a more evolved reason. Rather than quiz as punishment, we use the mini-tests to check in on our students before a more substantial, high stakes exam or assessment. Indeed, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a quiz is by definition a test of knowledge.

Recent research in cognitive science tells us that the power of quizzing students extends far beyond simply measuring a learner’s knowledge state at a given moment in time. Quizzing, it turns out, provides a robust learning effect in and of itself.

Memory researchers Roediger and Butler (2011) note: “Learning is usually thought to occur during episodes of studying, whereas retrieval of information on testing simply serves to assess what was learned.” Their studies suggest that the very act of trying to retrieve information from memory (as you do on a quiz), dramatically improves long-term retention of that same content.

I tried using quizzing as a teaching tool in my graduate education course at The University of Texas at Austin the past two semesters. Instead of a series of lectures, I pushed most of the direct instruction out of class and to the students. Below, find my protocol and some implementation tips.

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