There are many creative and effective ways to test the knowledge of students, but pop quizzes need to be ditched. Pop quizzes are an outdated form of testing which fosters boredom for the subject, teacher and student.
These quizzes have been used for decades, and honestly, I am not sure why. There may be some formulation of an idea where the quizzes hammer in information, but does it actually stick? To only learn new and valuable details moments before, then to have the announcement of a pop quiz most undoubtedly blows everything out the window for most students. I don’t see the logic — never have.
I, for one, have never been a fan of these beastly things. As a person who deals with anxiety, being tested a few times is enough, even when I know it’s coming. I envy the students who basically have the look of “bring it on.” I’m quite the opposite. I freeze, eyes wide, sweat running down my face, hands shaking and forget everything except my name — I’m kidding, though only about the sweat. It’s truly awful to learn new information, the teacher flipping through slides like they drank four red bulls, then boom — a quiz sitting in front of me moments later. I promise you, I didn’t remember anything then or now.
I thrive in classes where I know what’s to come and have the ability to set my own pace. Pop quizzes don’t allow for this and can cause unnerving amounts of stress due to trying to expect the unexpected. Forcing a strict pace onto students who possess different learning styles is unfair and can lead a great student to feel like a bad student. This isn’t what we want here, is it?
I don’t believe this technique is suitable, mainly because everyone has a different learning style. Granted, there are articles supporting pop quizzes as an instrumental technique in testing the student’s knowledge, but it’s not the whole story when looking at the many learning styles out there. Some students may benefit and some may not.
There are three major types of learning styles amongst various subtypes. Visual learners have the most trouble remembering verbal instructions. Oftentimes, this leads to the student reworking the lesson in their own time to better understand the material. Kinetic learners benefit from hands-on instruction, again, not aligning with how pop quizzes are utilized. Students who benefit from these quizzes are most likely auditory learners who absorb information by listening.
In a study by the International Association of Medical Science Educators, it was concluded that students who had preparation time for a quiz weighed in with better results than students who got hit with a pop quiz. The study makes it clear, when it comes to pop quizzes or scheduled quizzes, the latter ultimately creates a better pace for students to keep up with course material — leading to better grades.
Not all quizzes are at fault here. There is a fine line between knowing a quiz will be coming your way one week or the next and having a piece of paper slapped down in front of you after just learning new material. It’s best to keep in mind that with the plethora of students attending school, there are also different learning styles sitting in a classroom at once. Not one student learns at the same pace or in the same way as the next.
With so many individualized learning styles out in the world, it may be time to launch pop quizzes back into the past where they belong.