The Quiz: A Quick Assessment Tool

By Sara Rathburn

When the time comes to evaluate the amount of learning taking place in your class, don’t forget the quiz. Short by definition, a quiz is a quick way of gathering information on how well your students are meeting their learning objectives.

A well designed quiz will help motivate your students, highlighting the subject areas and skill-sets in which they are particularly strong, while pointing out those in which they would benefit by spending more time.

Here are a few guidelines you may find useful from the Honolulu Community College Faculty Development Web site:

  • Match the quiz material to your teaching content
  • Keep it simple. Even thoughtful, one question quizzes can be informative
  • Think about the utility of pop-quizzes versus those given with advance notice
  • Assess net gains in knowledge by quizzing both before and after new material is presented
  • Provide timely and constructive feedback
  • Design quizzes that evaluate more than just student-recall

The results of a well designed quiz often provide valuable insight on how effectively the course material is being presented. Poor across-the-board results may indicate areas that would benefit from a pedagogical review and a change in teaching techniques or style.

Remember, in addition to  keeping your finger on the pulse of your students’ learning progress, quiz results help you assess your own teaching accomplishments as well.

For more information on assessment tools, please visit the Carleton College Science Education Resource Center.


Davis, B.G., (1993). Quizzes, Test and Exams in Tools for Teaching (pp.241-242). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Retrieved February 26, 2008, from


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