Monday, November 25, 2013

Daily Quizzes Improve Grades- Especially for College Students From Low SES Populations

Original Wallace School, Hoboken NJ

A hallmark of my Jesuit education was daily quizzes. Mostly in Latin classes but not necessarily exclusively. Now comes an excellent study on the impact of daily quizzes on student achievement. While the study was conducted with college age students, there is no reason why the results should not generalize to broader populations (i.e. younger students). According to a published story in the Daily Texan by Wynne Davis as well as the New York Times, psychology professors Samuel Gosling and James Pennebaker have found that students perform better in an online classroom with daily “benchmark” quizzes rather than a traditional classroom with monumental midterms. UT has transitioned some courses to an online platform, developed by the two professors, named Texas Online World of Educational Research, in which students can participate online through broadcasted lectures that are formatted much like a television show. This is their third semester teaching with the new method.
“We started daily testing people, and we thought maybe it improves performance, and we found that it does improve performance in students, especially in students with low socioeconomic backgrounds. The idea is that if they bring their laptops in, we can give them personalized feedback based on their responses … to integrate many of those things that work well in an intimate class and try to scale those up for the big classes.” -Samuel Gosling
After using the new program, the professors compared the students’ performances to years past and saw a few major differences, Pennebaker said.

Copyright PLoS ONE
“First, students did better on the tests than in previous years when we used a conventional teaching approach,” Pennebaker said. “Second, our students made high grades in their other courses both that same semester and the semester afterwards. Third, our new method reduced the traditional achievement gap between those from upper middle and lower middle class students.
Summary: Grading college students on quizzes given at the beginning of every class, rather than on midterms or a final exam, increases both attendance and overall performance.
Original Research Article: CLICK HERE 
Citation: Pennebaker JW, Gosling SD, Ferrell JD (2013) Daily Online Testing in Large Classes: Boosting College Performance while Reducing Achievement Gaps. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79774. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079774