Resources, ideas and prompts for discussion related to Deliberate Practice and retrieval based tasks

Low stakes testing and quizzing

Frequent quizzing and form a simple routine test of knowledge helps us to check if students have learned what has been taught. Helpfully it can tell both the teacher and the learner about any gaps in knowledge. Quizzing also encourages recall which strengthens the retrieval of information from memory, and by having to then process and think about the information the learner is re-encoding it and committing it to memory again – further strengthening the learning process. If we consider and plan the content of our quizzes carefully, and use them at appropriate intervals, then they can be a routine tool that has a very positive impact on knowledge fluency.

The following steps may seem obvious but to make sure simple quizzing has the maximum impact there are a handful of considerations to keep in mind:

  • Deliver the content and provide the material: Before quizzing ensure that all desired content has been taught and students have the resources and materials to be able to review, review and prepare themselves. Good quizzes should be designed to build confidence, and confidence comes from achieving a level of success in the quiz so students should be encouraged to prepare for them.
  • Set questions that are based on factual recall: Questions should be short, aimed at recall, and ideally utilising between 5-10 questions across a range of styles that could include fact checks, quick problem solving such as maths problems, multiple choice, true/false, label a diagram/missing label, recall a quote or definition, answering with a list of bullet points.
  • Provide enough time for all to attempt all questions: Avoid the tendency of rushing a class through the quiz, or stopping it because a few have finished, if the aim is to practise and check recall. As with every question not attempted the opportunity to check knowledge has gone.
  • Share the answers so students can self/peer-check: The most time efficient means of giving answers is to display them all on the board/projector/visualiser at once. You may prefer to reveal one at a time if you want to add any explanation and hold attention.
  • Seek errors and praise positive performance: Aside from getting to practise recall and retrieval, the second most useful purpose of quizzing is for the student to notice gaps in knowledge, so take the time to ask the class what they got wrong and why that might be the case. Also acknowledge and praise positive performance.

Online quizzing – Quizizz and Kahoot!

There is nothing wrong with good old fashioned teacher driven quizzing. However it is worth acknowledging the online options available and how they could be used (particularly dependent on school device policies and performance of WiFi). Two of the most common and certainly most popular are Kahoot! and Quizizz.

The main differences between these two platforms arise from their functionality, which is briefly considered here.

Platform:Kahoot app
Quizizz app
Cost:Basic account free.
More useful diagnostic tools have a monthly cost.
Devices:Web browser or Android or iOS appsWeb browser or Android or iOS apps
Quiz types:Multiple choice, True/False, Images as answers

**Polls, Text type, Rearrange (these require paid accounts)
Multiple choice questions

Gap fills (but spelling errors etc cause incorrect marks so not as effective as MCQ)
Ways to play:Hosted live (teacher displays questions on screen and clicks them on) or Student-paced (so can be set as an assignment or home learning) Student-paced whether you play live or set as a home learning task (it does not need the teacher to display and advance the questions on screen like Kahoot!)
Viewing questions:Students have to look at the teacher’s screen (if playing live) then use their computer or device as the buttons.Questions display on the student’s own screen with answer buttons.
Integration: Can post as an assignment link to online classrooms like Google ClassroomDirect linking with your Google Classroom account and lists of students (if you login)
A brief comparison of Kahoot! and Quizizz (as of July 2020)

So which to use? Both platforms are useful ed-tech to add to your toolkit, and Kahoot! often gets celebrated for its vibrancy and ‘fun’ factor, but perhaps most importantly it does presently allow for more variety in question types. However despite this many teacher blogs and books (such as ‘Retrieval Practice’ by Kate Jones) champion Quizizz (Jones calls it “the best online multiple-choice quizzing tool!”) for its diagnostic capabilities, the fact it promotes student-paced recall and retrieval and you can have more readily available access to student performance (without having to pay). Proponents of Quizizz generally state that:

  • It is easy to use for teachers and learners and the absence of charges (currently at least!)
  • Class lists can be integrated from Google Classroom
  • Students can work at their own pace and question orders can be shuffled for each student automatically to avoid neighbourly ‘cheating’!
  • Quizizz records and tracks the results of quizzes for the teacher, showing which questions the class answered most correct/incorrect (a paid for feature with Kahoot!), also broken down by student.
  • The well-liked teleport feature, which allows you to magpie particular questions from other existing quizzes into your own (which can then be shared with others too). Invariably if we find a pre-made quiz it rarely matches what we have covered exactly with our groups. So you might want 2 Qs from one quiz and 6 Qs from another – teleport will allow you to copy and stitch these together quickly.
  • Features such as leader-boards can be turned off, extra points for speed can be turned off, music can be turned off (basically anything that discourages thinking time can be removed).

If schools have Google accounts they could also make use of Google Forms to create quizzes, although this can be a little more time consuming, but it is a good way of collecting extended, typed answers within a quiz on the Google platform.

Collaboration to support retrieval and testing

Students can be trained to test each other’s knowledge and to provide correction and feedback (providing they have the sufficient knowledge and the accurate materials needed to do so). We would need to make sure we model what good peer questions sound like (this can be done by using teacher quizzing as the reference example), then identify and allocate the key roles to make the activity more successful as if using groups as opposed to pairs you could have the ‘quizzer’ and the ‘contestant’ but also a ‘checking partner’ (who makes sure everyone is encouraged to respond and monitors the group so no one dominates). You can then launch the task and explicitly ask the ‘quizzer’ to begin, or ‘Person 1’ to assess ‘Person 2’, and they could do this with:

  • A list of prepared questions (and answers)
  • Labelling a diagram to show the assessor
  • Producing a flow chart
  • Narrating an idea or concept to the assessor
  • Testing on content of a knowledge organiser

Any of the above can work, providing the assessing student has access to the correct information to provide necessary feedback. The task should then be run again with roles swapped for another student to have the chance to give answers. This exposes students to questions and answers from multiple perspectives, ultimately giving them multiple opportunities to engage with the content.

When closing collaborative quizzes it is worth spending a moment to discuss any difficulties that arose, that the class can identify or that you picked up on when listening to the various mini quizzes going on around the room.

Associated further reading and references:

  • ‘Chapter 4: Practice’, in Allison, S. and Tharby, A., 2017. Making Every Lesson Count. Carmarthen: Crown House.
  • Sherrington, T., and Caviglioli, O., 2020. TEACHING WALKTHRUS. [S.l.]: JOHN CATT EDUCATIONAL LTD.
  • ICT Evangelist: Which to use – Kahoot! or Quizizz? https://ictevangelist.com/which-to-use-kahoot-or-quizizz/
  • Jones, K., 2019. Retrieval Practice: Research & Resources for every classroom. Melton: John Catt Educational Ltd.