What are the pedagogical uses of quizzing?

Last Updated: Tue December 8, 2020

What are quizzing tools?

A quizzing tool is software for delivering quizzes and other assessments to learners. In general, quizzing tools also provide automated grading and tracking of student performance to assist the instructor in making sure students achieve their learning outcomes.

Why use quizzing tools?

Quizzing tools can be used to provide students with a comprehensive, accessible and evolving learning experience. When compared to other pedagogical tools, quizzing tools usually have a higher degree of customization due to its inherent software nature and due to being based on adaptable question types. By taking advantage of customizable question types, instructors can design tailored content that tests students’ knowledge in a wide range of subjects and that is accessible to students with different skills. The software aspect of quizzing tools also makes student performance data easily accessible to instructors. Instructors can then use this to improve their quizzing material.

How can I use quizzing tools efficiently?

Quizzing tools can be an efficient pedagogical tool for instructors to teach students new skills and measure how well students learn a specific content. Successful use of quizzing tools can be split into three different stages:

1. Design insightful questions

The first step is to create questions that clearly and efficiently test the skills an instructor wishes their students to learn. This can be done by carefully choosing what content the questions will test and by building the questions using appropriate tools. 

The content choice should be based on the instructor’s relevant experience and course level. The question implementation is enhanced by the type of question format utilized (multiple choice, fill in the blank, essay, and so on).

For example, instructors can test students’ speaking skills by using questions that allow for audio input. These questions can also be used to record collective discussions about a specific topic. For contents that require visual elements, instructors can make use of graphing and charting interfaces embedded in quizzing questions. These can be used to test students’ comprehension of mathematical concepts and numerical trends in a more intuitive and informative format. There are also other answer input formats that are available depending on which quizzing tool an instructor wishes to use. Canvas offers many types of questions, including the following: 

  • Multiple choice
  • True/false
  • Fill-in-the-blank
  • Fill-in-multiple blanks
  • Multiple answers
  • Multiple dropdown
  • Likert scale
  • Matching
  • Numerical answer
  • Formula with a single variable
  • Simple formula
  • Essay
  • File upload

2. Analyze student data

After students complete a set of assignments, an instructor can analyze the responses in order to understand where students performed well and where they did not achieve the desired outcome. Quizzing tools usually offer detailed reports on student performance data that allows instructors to make effective decisions about modifying their quizzes’ content. As a result, instructors can improve the learning process and the overall structure of their course.

More specifically, some information typically provided by quizzing tools in a report are:

  • Students’ score in an assignment, along with an assignment’s average grade, number of submissions, number of attempts, total time spent, median score and standard deviation.
  • Students’ score in a question within an assignment, along with most and least common responses, median score and standard deviation for each question.

3. Redesign questions and provide feedback to students

Once the instructors have a good understanding of how to improve their content, it is time to cycle back and make the necessary changes to their questions’ design. It is also crucial to provide each student with constructive feedback highlighting areas in which they can improve their skills on and congratulate them for their performance whenever appropriate.

What are my quizzing tool options?

Currently, Canvas Quizzes and Atomic Assessments are the two centrally supported quizzing tools available to UW-Madison instructors as part of the Learn@UW suite of learning technologies. Canvas Quizzes is included in any Canvas course and is very easy to implement. For more information about best practices for delivering quizzes in Canvas, please see this KnowledgeBase document.

Atomic Assessments, used by a relatively small number of STEM and language courses, is generally not recommended for new adopters because of its complexity and steep learning curve. Quizzes created using Atomic Assessments are displayed to students in the same way as Canvas Quizzes. In order to create and edit an Atomic Assessment quiz, the instructor should use the Atomic Assessments tab in the left-side Canvas menu. For more information on Atomic Assessments, please visit Getting started with Atomic Assessments.

Who can I talk to for more information?

Our learning technology consultants are happy to help you choose the best tool to fit your needs and start using it to improve student success. Contact the DoIT Help Desk to schedule an appointment with a DoIT Academic Technology consultant. In addition, the Learn@UW KnowledgeBase offers helpful documents for instructors, course owners and students.


Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison