quiz-a-day — cs21a, education

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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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