Faculty today

Assessment for learning: Learning from peers with two-stage quizzes


This is the third post in our Assessment for Learning (AfL) series, as we anticipate Beyond Grading: Effective Assessment Strategies for Better Learning, a McGill University symposium taking place on December 7, 2018.

Whenever I completed a quiz for a course during my undergraduate degree, the learning seemed prematurely curtailed: I did the quiz, received a grade on myCourses, and then wondered about the questions I had answered incorrectly. When we got our quiz results, my peers and I sometimes ended up helping one another understand where we had gone wrong – just because we were curious about the answers. We were actually engaging in an informal peer feedback activity. In retrospect, I can’t help but think that we could have learned from our incorrect responses through structured peer feedback activities that were organized, and maybe even assessed, by the instructor.

Fellow grad student Simone Tissenbaum accompanied me on an expedition through McGill University’s downtown and Macdonald campuses to ask students about the types of assignments that have really helped them learn. One student described how their instructor used a two-stage quiz – where students first completed the quiz individually and then completed the same quiz with a group. As the student described, the first stage gave students the opportunity to demonstrate their own understanding of the content and the second stage allowed each student to pick up on the things they’d missed thanks to peers’ input. Listen to what the student says.

Assessment for Learning (AfL) strategy: Learn more about two-stage exams (or quizzes): implementation, benefits and challenges.

Beyond Grading: Effective Assessment Strategies for Better Learning – December 7, 2018

Do you teach at McGill University? You’re invited to a symposium where we will engage our community of instructors in learning about creative and effective assessment strategies to help improve students’ learning and motivation to learn, and inform teaching practices. View the symposium program and register to attend.

Check out the other posts in the Assessment for Learning series:

Kira Smith is an MA student in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. She received her BA in English and Philosophy from McGill in 2017 and has been working as a project assistant at Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) since. An avid unicyclist and voracious reader of pretty much anything, Kira enjoys good chats about student affairs and TLS coffee.

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