quiz-a-day — cs21a, education

I’ve started the past two classes with a 5-minute quiz. This is
actually a good thing. It’s short, so I can check it easily. It
provides me an opportunity to call people up to the board to write
down the correct answers, and I try to use this to involve people who
hadn’t spoken in front of class before. It also gives me valuable
feedback on how the class is handling arrays. From the results, it
looks like I’ll need to spend one class day on exercises before we
move on to searching and sorting.

I print the quizzes beforehand. I used frames in OpenOffice.org
to put several quizzes on one piece of paper, and then I print out
enough copies for the whole class. I cut them with scissors or tear
the paper neatly – I have a hard time with the paper cutter. =) After
the quiz is finished, I collect the papers, flip through them quickly,
and ask several people to write their answers on the board. After the
class, I tabulate it using Emacs’ forms mode, noting their nicknames,
total score, and any incorrect answers to questions. That will allow
me to review mistakes even after I return the papers.

I don’t know whether it’s because of the quizzes or because of the
activities I’d planned, but the past few classes have been very
lively. The quizzes seem to put everyone in the mood to start working,
and it accustoms the students to time pressure.

The extra load is actually quite manageable – it takes me around 5 to
10 minutes to prepare the quiz (I do this the night before), a few
minutes to print and cut the quizzes, and another 5 to 10 to check all
of them.

CS faculty are generally averse to taking attendance. Daily quizzes
offer a way to do that while providing useful feedback on class
progress.

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