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Sometimes things don’t work out the way you expect.

Submission by Chris Bruce

Chris BruceAt last year’s ASTE conference Leadership Summit, I gave a “What If” presentation about how it would be cool to use mobile devices to quiz students, and, instead of a score, students received homework customized to their weak areas. Lots of people at the conference were interested in the idea, so I built it and made it available on the web for free.  It is called www.quizevolved.com.  We have been using it in physics, applied technology, and social studies classes since the beginning of the year.

While in the process of creating www.quizevolved.com, my teaching colleague, Dave Torpe, mentioned that he wanted the ability to select specific questions and for students to be able to attempt a question multiple times during the quiz until they got it right.  It turns out that Dave was onto something great—group quizzes.  The basic idea: 4 students sit around a table. All work on the same questions, but each student has a different version of the question with different answers. It sometimes takes students a little while to realize that the questions aren’t identical, and I often found myself chuckling when Student A complains that they put in the exact same answer as Student B, but they got it wrong even though Student B got it right.  Group quizzes have been awesome for introducing new ideas and skills, and are now a regular part of my class.

www.quizevolved.com didn’t turn out the way I expected.  “Customized Homework Assignments” are really hard to get right – they are powerful when they work, but it takes a lot of effort to get there.  On the other hand, group quizzes are quick and easy to set up.  They have replaced a lot of the “busy work” homework assignments that I used to give. It is now possible to hold students individually accountable when they are working in a small group. 

The question “What If?” is powerful in education.  In attempting to answer it, we can find ourselves in completely unexpected and wonderful places.

If anyone is interested in trying www.quizevolved.com, let me know, and I would be happy to give you some pointers.  Also, for any physics teachers, we have a complete bank of original physics questions that are tagged, linked, and ready to go.  Send me an email any time at cjbruce3@gmail.com.

-Chris Bruce

Physics Teacher, NBCT

QuizEvolved Lead Developer