The 3-Minute Quiz

By Dr. Fawzia Tung

How can you keep your finger on the pulse of your students’ learning, without taking extra class time? How can you decide to move on or to review and strengthen material taught? Again, without too much extra effort and time?

Over my years of teaching, I developed a quick and easy trick: The 3-Minute Quiz. It only takes three minutes per class, gives you an immediate feedback, builds data, and even helps you take attendance! At the start of every single class, on the dot, I switch on the projector. A question pops up on the screen. You give the students one minute (timed) to answer it on small squares of paper. The alarm/buzzer/bell rings. The students pass the papers to the person in front. You then pick up each stack from each front desk and redistribute them to different rows. Each student passes the stack to the person behind, after picking up one of the papers. You now flash the answer/s on the screen. Each student passes the corrected quiz to the person in front. You pick up the little stacks and collect them on your desk. The whole correction process should have taken less than two minutes. You now have a stack of quizzes with a large grade circled in red at the top right-hand corner of each paper. You can now assign bell work, during which time you can enter all grades into your computer. Anyone not entered is late or absent. To get the most efficient use out of this activity, make sure of the following:

1. Only give one point per quiz. No retake or make-up quiz. No one minds losing one point because of tardiness or absence. The crux is when you miss them again and again, they add up to a lot by the end of the semester. Good deterrent.

2. What question to ask: always ask the MAIN IDEA of the last class. Do not ask about details. You want to know whether the students understood or absorbed whatever topic you were teaching. You can split the question into two answers or four answers. For example: If you were teaching about physiology of the liver, Name four functions of the liver. If you were teaching how to borrow a ten in subtraction, write two or four direct questions: 20-15=? 45-28=? If the last class was an activity where students presented power points on Native American tribes, the question could be: name four Native American tribes.

3. You could, of course, make this a 2-minute quiz by skipping the peer correction process and correcting them yourself. Peer correction is not just a labor-saving device for the teacher but also a further review process for the student. In just 3 minutes, the student has to think twice about the topic.

4. Be consistent. If you decide to do it, then do it every single class. Otherwise, it is not effective.

5. Be prepared. At the beginning of the semester, ask every student to cut A4 papers to quarter pages and write their names on each. Let them keep this stack of papers in a handy place, such as their folder for this class. I prefer the name on one side and the answers on the other side, just so the peer corrector doesn’t get side-tracked by the name.

6. Computers are lovely things when it comes to tracking of data. Please make full use of it. You can run average scores per class, per student or per topic/chapter and make comparisons. You can turn the data into a graph or a chart. I used my three-minute quiz data to assess the effectiveness of new teaching methodologies. For example, when I implemented Spaced Learning in an Anatomy and Physiology course, I saw a shift of average scores from 0-0.25 to 0.75-1.0! That was phenomenal!


The 3-Minute Quiz

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