The Power of Quizzing: Benefits, Challenges, and How to Implement a Plan

Osmosis Team
Published on Oct 5, 2023. Updated on Oct 24, 2023.

In today's Osmosis by Elsevier blog, discover the power of quizzing to boost retention, identify knowledge gaps, and enhance learning engagement in healthcare education.

The curriculum for health care students is usually rigorous, time-consuming, and stretches the brain's memory capacity. So, how do you keep students engaged and actively participating in their learning? There’s a powerful tool educators and students frequently use to improve learning outcomes: quizzing. 

Whether educators provide the quizzes or students quiz themselves, several benefits arise, including improved retention and identifying knowledge gaps. Let’s examine these benefits more in-depth, as well as the challenges that may arise with quizzing and how to implement quizzing effectively. 

Benefits of Quizzing

The power of quizzes lies in the low-stakes or no-stakes definition of the activity. Compared to tests, which usually result in an impactful final assessment of learning, quizzes offer health care students the opportunity to practice their skills and knowledge without fear of failure. 

Another benefit of quizzing is improved knowledge and retention, also called the testing effect. When students partake in quizzing activities, they learn actively instead of passively (e.g., rereading the material). Actively engaging with the material increases the chances of recalling the information when needed later on, shifting short-term memory to long-term memory capabilities. Research shows students can retrieve material tested before the final assessment better than those not tested at all. 

Quizzing also helps students determine knowledge gaps and identify areas that require further study. This skill is called metacognitive monitoring. Regular quizzing opportunities boost metacognitive monitoring abilities and help students discover what knowledge they’re confident and less confident in understanding. Students are also able to apply knowledge to new contexts better. 

Overcoming Quizzing Challenges 

As with any educational tool, there are challenges educators must consider and work to overcome in terms of quizzing.

Addressing text anxiety

Most students are trained to think all forms of tests or quizzes are for assessing learning because this is the typical role throughout all education. As you can guess, high-stakes assessments can cause students to have test anxiety, making it even harder to recall information or complete a practice assessment. 

When you provide quizzes, let your students know the low stakes involved in the activity. Help them view quizzes as a learning opportunity, and this will help them better frame the activity in their minds. According to a recent study, quizzing can help reduce test anxiety for students, which supports the recommendation for educators to incorporate them into the curriculum. 

Balancing Formative and Summative Assessment

Formative assessments typically carry no grade and are low stakes. On the other hand, summative assessments evaluate students’ learning and compare it against a standard or benchmark, typically in the form of an impactful grade. As with all education, there needs to be a balance of both types for students.

Since quizzing is a type of formative assessment, the activity can seem fruitless or trivial in the grand scheme of learning for students. As a result, they may feel discouraged or not fully engaged when quizzing is offered or suggested. If this happens, you can remind students that participating in quizzing will strengthen their knowledge and skills for the summative assessments. 

Ensuring Fair and Unbiased Assessment

Suzane Lane’s study, Performance Assessment: The State of the Art, highlights the need to ensure fair and unbiased assessment, especially when grades are involved. Her research found performance assessment can be impacted by various cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds of students. 

For example, ELL students may have more difficulty writing out essay answers or reading long paragraphs of text, so Lane suggests that “linguistic demands on items can be simplified to help ensure that ELLs are able to access the task as well as other students.” This ensures ELL students aren’t given unbiased assessments simply due to their first language capabilities. Overall, health educators should develop, administer, and refine assessments with the entire class in mind.

Implementing Quizzes Effectively 

There are numerous ways educators can implement quizzes effectively so students can better their learning opportunities. The following list will help guide your quizzing efforts: 

Designing assessment tools

The flexibility of quizzing is a plus for educators and students alike. Types of quiz questions range from multiple-choice, short answer, and essay. The form can be as simple as students writing out note cards and quizzing themselves with them. Whichever design assessment tool you choose, ensure clear learning objectives are set for the task, and the students actively engage with the material. 

The importance of feedback

Research shows feedback is critical to getting the full value from quizzing, especially for wrong answers. Feedback is helpful for students to understand the knowledge they need to work on and to create a plan to work on it further. It doesn’t have to be given immediately after a quiz, just as long as it’s given. 

Encouraging self-assessment

Quizzing shouldn’t strictly be an assessment educators give to students. Self-assessment should be encouraged in the form of students quizzing themselves at home or quizzing each other. The more students realize the power quizzing has on their learning, the better they’ll be at self-directed learning for future topics. 

Integrating quizzes into the curriculum

Help your students prepare for better learning with integrated quizzes in the curriculum. These quizzes should align with course objectives and be outlined and stated in the syllabus. 

Strategies for regular assessment

When educators inform students that regular assessment impacts long-term learning capabilities, students are more likely to use quizzing to improve learning. The article, Aligning Assessment With Long-Term Learning, argues that “short‐term focus must be balanced against a longer‐term emphasis for learning‐oriented assessment to foster future learning after graduation.” Therefore, regular assessment is critical not only for students to succeed in school but also in the workplace. 

Considerations for online and remote learning

Quizzing can be as effective for online and remote learning as in-person learning. However, since it’s tempting for students to get together and take quizzes simultaneously or share answers, it’s crucial for assessment integrity to be top of mind. 

According to Faculty Focus, educators can ensure quiz integrity for online and remote learning by delaying score availability, changing the order of questions for students, requiring students to answer one question at a time without backtracking, and using varied question types. These restrictions should help students be less tempted to cheat, which, in the end, only hurts their learning. 

Using technology for quizzing

Thanks to technological advancements, quizzing doesn’t have to be strictly done with paper and pencil. Online resources allow educators and students to assess knowledge with helpful feedback. For instance, Osmosis by Elsevier quizzes and assessments help aspiring health professionals take stock of what they know and don't know. Students can answer quiz questions repeatedly throughout your course to see how they’ve progressed since day one.

Why Quizzing Matters in Health Education

Students studying medicine, nursing, and other health professions stress over a health education curriculum's rigorous (and at times overwhelming) nature. Quizzing helps lift the pressure off students’ shoulders—an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.

When health educators use Osmosis by Elsevier quizzes and assessments to incorporate active learning into the classroom, students can spot areas for improvement during class or in their own time. Using quizzes as a formative assessment also provides immediate feedback and helps discover knowledge gaps. 

Interested in learning how Osmosis by Elsevier can support quizzing efforts in your program? Schedule a call today

References & Resources

  • [1] Roediger, H. L., & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17(3), 249-255.

  • [3] Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students' learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58.

  • [9] Boud, D., & Falchikov, N. (2006). Aligning assessment with long-term learning. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(4), 399-413.

  • [18] Lane, S., & Stone, C. A. (2006). Performance assessment in education: Origins, approaches, and implications. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 25(4), 6-20.

  • Yang, C., Li, J., Zhao, W. et al. Do Practice Tests (Quizzes) Reduce or Provoke Test Anxiety? A Meta-Analytic Review. Educ Psychol Rev 35, 87 (2023).