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Using Quizzes to Measure Teaching Effectiveness:
How Do You Measure Up?

By Sandra Romo

Quick quizzes throughout the day can help teachers assess the effectiveness of their instruction, as well as student understanding of the concepts taught. Included: Five tips to simplify the process.

As many state departments of education consider the adoption of merit pay systems for teachers -- or begin firing teachers whose students fail to measure up on standardized tests -- and as the Obama administrations Race to the Top" incentive program gains traction, more and more teachers are feeling increased pressure to accurately assess their students academic progress while, at the same time, assessing and improving their own competence in the classroom.

As necessary as ongoing assessment is for both teachers and students, many teachers complain that constant testing stifles their creativity and destroys student interest, at a time when motivation is mandatory for the current crop of media-saturated students.

So, how can teachers assess student learning and evaluate the quality of their own teaching, without losing the interest of their students? The answer is simple: implement quick quizzes throughout daily instruction to ensure that students understand what youre teaching and -- when they dont -- to understand where your teaching has missed the mark.

Apply these simple steps throughout the day to learn how your students -- and you -- measure up.

Determine what you want to learn from a quiz.
The primary function of these frequent classroom quizzes is to evaluate student learning in relation to the teachers instructional methods. Using online quiz-making software can help significantly with that process. When selecting such software, be sure to choose one that allows you to easily track quiz takers and one that provides analytics -- i.e. analyzes the results of the quiz and shows statistics and reports about those results.

Be sure quizzes are developed around content-related questions.
What you get out of your quizzes will be determined by the content-related questions asked. If you want to find out how well students have mastered the concept of figurative language, for example, dont ask them to rate themselves on how well they understand metaphors; ask a couple of quick questions about figurative language. Make sure to always include a very simple question and a more complex question to determine how well theyve mastered the concept.

Evaluate quizzes, dont grade them.
Did your students pass or fail the quiz? That answer alone will measure student understanding and your teaching effectiveness, and allow you to see where you stand. Looking at the question(s) students answered incorrectly will help you determine where there might have been a gap in instruction, or where students became confused.

The screenshot below from ProProfs Quiz Maker provides analytics for a SAT test. It shows that most students answered question 8 incorrectly. Such analytics can help you pinpoint which areas you need to re-teach, or where students excelled. That will help you better target future instruction.

Create simple, easy-to-use quizzes.
Youll get the most information from students if you dont bombard them with too many questions. Quizzes should include three to five questions and take no longer then ten minutes to complete. The ideal is to ask students two questions about the concept currently being taught and one question about another topic. The first concept question should be difficult; the second concept question should be easier. Together, theyll help you see how well students understand the concept.

An alternative to a simple 2-3 question quiz is to incorporate a video quiz to help you assess student learning in another modality. When using a web-based quiz-making format, you easily can add this type of instructional method to your quiz to help students apply learning to different modalities and to assess students in all learning styles.

Let students know what youre doing.
Explain to students your goals for quizzes. Frequent quizzes can frighten some students and cause test anxiety. Simply explain to students right from the beginning that, in your class, they will be taking frequent short quizzes. Tell them the quizzes will not be graded; they are simply meant to let you know whether youve taught the material in a way theyve understood. When they hear theyre helping you, theyll be more receptive to the quizzes.

Remember, the most important goal in assessing your teaching with a quiz is to think about how students are learning and associate that with an evaluation of your instruction. When you do that, you help your students and improve your pedagogy simultaneously.

About the Author

Sandra Romo, M.S. is a passionate educator and curriculum specialist with nearly ten years experience in pedagogical practices and curriculum development. With experience in teaching at all grade levels, Romo implements the latest e-learning methodologies within her instruction and curriculum. Romo is the curriculum specialist and e-learning writer for ProProfs.

ProProfs helps educators expand knowledge learned with reliable resources to build and test knowledge. Our free Quiz Maker is a super easy-to-use quiz building program to help teachers create effective quizzes to quickly measure students’ progress and ensure mastery of concepts.

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