Early Exams Result to Improve Attendance and Performance Among College Students, Studies Show

essay outline news New research finds that there is an increase in attendance and improvement of grades in college students when they were given quizzes regularly at the onset of class days rather than on occasional major examinations.

The results were documented in PLoS One and originated from a recent experiment where 901 college students from the University of Texas served as respondents. The so-called “testing effect” proved to be effective specifically towards students from lower economic classes. The respondent students were required to bring their personal laptops with them for the use of online examinations. Dr. James W. Pennebaker and Dr. Samuel D. Gosling, the two professors teaching Psych 301 to the said 901 students, were the same instructors that requested that those who had laptops to bring them to school. Incidentally, no one came empty-handed. To the horror of the students they were asked to take a set of short quizzes daily using their laptops. The quizzes are custom made for every student, with a standard set of questions and one personal item that the specific student answered incorrectly on a quiz before. The quizzes had a reasonable level of difficulty and served as a substitute to a final exam later on in the semester.

Namita Pallod, one of the students from the class claimed that the quiz items, “weren’t impossible, as long as you did the reading and paid attention in class, but there were definitely some ‘thinkers,’ further adding, “The harder part for me was always when old questions you had missed previously came back.”

The exam system was unsurprisingly met with very negative feedback from the students. “Sam and I usually get really high course evaluations from the students,” Dr. Pennebaker admitted, “these were the lowest ever.” Dr. Gosling owes the resentment to the students’ other agendas, “For the first few weeks, every time their friends went out drinking, they couldn’t go; they had yet another test the next day.”

college essay outline newsThe results proved to be beneficial to the students. Their scores trumped those of the previous year by a 10% difference, with the highest rate of grade improvement coming from the students that came from low caliber schools. Dr. Gosling says that the shorter quizzes help keep students seeing their progress realistically, instead of the sad trend he usually sees “when they fail the first midterm, they think it’s a fluke…by the time they’ve failed the second one, it’s too late. The hole’s too deep. The quizzes make it impossible to maintain that state of denial.” In addition to improving test scores, the daily quizzes also helped improve students’ attendance. The two professors also brought up the significant increase in students who came on time and who didn’t cut class. “In the middle of the semester, attendance usually averages about 60 percent…In this quiz class it was 90 percent. If you know you’ve got a quiz, you have to show up.”

The study initially was aimed at proving that technology is a helpful tool in education, attempting to debunk the assumption that it only leads to counter productivity. Scientists also concluded from the experiment that examinations improve academic performance and justifiably measure the improvement at the same time.
It is already a well known consensus that academic performance changes depending on what time of the day tests are carried out. Psychologists, on another study conducted a few years ago, have found that jotting down details of an essay outline from memory causes a student to have greater retention of the work compared to reading it over and over again.

The results from the recent experiment are said to be plausible proof of how earlier conducted quizzes could be used in this day and age when technology is the new norm. But the experts heed educators to not act on the findings so hastily just yet, since they are still not fully informed of how this could be applied practically in real life situations.

A professor of psychology at Purdue, Jeffrey Kapricke, although not directly involved in the study, understands the full value of the research, saying that it bridges the gaps between social classes, “This study is important because it introduces a new method to implement frequent quizzing with feedback in large classrooms, which can be difficult to do…This is the first large study to show that classroom quizzing can help reduce achievement gaps.”

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