Frequent, low-stakes quizzes are a great way to build accountability and practice into your courses. They are also a good way to get students used to the kinds of questions, problems, or assessments that you’ll use for big-stakes exams. The idea is simple: pick some straightforward, objective-focused questions to quiz your students every week or every session that are worth just a small fraction of their overall grade.
While you might want to consider designing (or redesigning) a future class with these quizzes in mind, it isn’t too late to integrate some low-stakes quizzing into your class midway through the semester. Particularly if you are concerned that students aren’t doing the reading, or aren’t doing it adequately to meet the challenge of your midterm. The key to making this change to a class already in progress is clear communication. Tell students why you are implementing short quiz questions, and be clear about how they will (or will not) factor into their final grade. Some faculty use these questions as a proxy for attendance, while others will fold the scores into an existing assessment category for quizzes. Whatever you choose, make sure students know why the change is being made and how it will impact their learning and their grades.
Frequent, low-stakes are not just good tools for you as an instructor– they are also an opportunity for your students to check in on their own progress. Regular failure in these small quizzes should indicate that they need to focus on their preparation before the midterm rolls around. Want to learn more about other implementation methods, such as low-stakes writing assignments? Read more here.
There are many tools you can use to administer these quiz questions, including Canvas, Clickers, Mentimeter, and Google forms. Not sure which is right for you? Stop by the Faculty Commons for a short consultation.