New research shows that more frequent testing may improve attendance and grades.
A recent study of 901 students taking an introduction to psychology course at the University of Texas revealed that overall performance and attendance increased when online quizzes were given at the beginning of each class. Moreover, the study found a 50 percent reduction in the achievement gap, which was measured by grades, between lower and upper socioeconomic statuses.
The students were asked to bring their laptop to every class and they would take a daily online quiz that gave “immediate and personalized feedback.” The results were compared to the same data from traditional instruction taught to 935 students the previous semester. The traditional method included four exams over the semester and machine graded in-class exams that typically included 40 to 45 multiple choice questions.
Those who took the daily, computer-based online quizzes received exam performance scores that were half a letter grade above the traditional system. Not only did the students outperform their traditional counterparts in the psychology course, they also performed better in other classes and in subsequent semester classes.
While this method would be very difficult to implement in a traditional setting with the time it takes to grade and comment on paper exams, an online, computer-based structure makes it possible. Since online testing is easily scalable, the program can be extended to a larger number of students.