Heights Platform Why Quizzes are Ineffective

Why Quizzes are Ineffective

5 minute read

Quizzes are a poor way for a teacher to measure what a student has learned, especially when it comes to creative subjects. Constraints of scale and lack of innovation resulted in quizzes being a comfortable choice rather than the best choice.

Let’s look into why quizzes are a poor measure of what a student has learned, and what we believe is a better solution.

Does the ability to remember and answer a multiple choice question correctly have any correlation to someone being a good photographer, a good writer, programer, designer, painter, or musician? Can you remember a multiple choice question that changed your life?

Learning is powerful when it produces results. So why would anyone teach using a method that cannot accurately measure results, and does not provide valuable feedback or experience to the learner?

The feedback a student receives from a quiz (the score) does not help to show the learner where they can improve, as opposed to the experience of having done something and having discovered a weakness firsthand, either from one’s own self discovery or the feedback of peers and mentors.

“Never memorize something that you can look up.” ― Albert Einstein

We don’t learn by repeating something we heard or saw and temporarily memorized. People learn by doing. Actually doing the thing we are trying to learn provides true experience and can provide many points of feedback, both from our own experience and the comments of others.

Our Solution - Students Grow with Projects and Progress is Measured with Analytics

It’s for these reasons above that we don’t offer quiz functionality in Heights. Instead we have a feature called “Projects”. Mentors can create a project for their students to complete once the student has finished all of the program’s courses. If the program was teaching students how to launch their first app, then it would likely have a project to have students create their first app. This forces students to apply what they’ve learned on their own rather than answering multiple choice questions that can't compare to having the real experience.

We use analytics to learn about a student’s absorption of our content, even when dealing with a large group of learners. Heights collects various data points to help mentors gauge how well their content is being absorbed. We track metrics like which lessons were viewed, how much time was spent on the platform, how active someone is in discussion forums, what lessons were completed recently, and how fast is progress relative to other students. This type of information can’t be easily found in a traditional large classroom environment. The only way to have this kind of insight into a student in the past was to be teaching them one on one. Heights Platform helps mentors keep that same level of intimate understanding in your student’s progress, while empowering them to share their knowledge at a larger scale.

What if the Subject Being Taught Can’t be Practiced in a Real World Application?

If a new skill can't be practiced in a real world project to learn from the experience of doing, then the only likely reasons are that it is either too dangerous or too expensive to try and fail without already knowing the steps. If this is the case, a quiz is still not the best solution. The task could be simulated in virtual reality first to remove the danger/expense (launching a rocket into space for example), while still providing real experience to the learner.

“What people do quite naturally is, if its work, they try to figure out how to do less. And if its art, we try to figure out how to do more.” ― Seth Godin

What about someone claiming that something like a multiple choice quiz was important because of a need to teach about complex policies that cannot be practiced in a real world project and simply need to be memorized? Well, memorizing a policy isn't a skill being learned. If the teaching was not about memorizing a specific policy, and was instead about training your memory, then real examples and real world practice of what is taught is still the best solution. Jobs going forward will be creative ones. Repeated simple tasks will be automated. The vast majority of advanced education should be focused on teaching creative skills.

Isn't Asking Students Questions Important?

When we refer to the idea of a quiz, we are talking about the concept of multiple choice questions that test memory of something read or heard, and don’t offer opportunity for creative response.

Asking your students questions from which they can provide creative responses is great and can be very valuable for mentors to gauge how students are thinking and where they are at in their learning.

We care deeply about our customers, and we care even more about the success of their students because ultimately, that is what keeps us all growing. We are continuously working towards a better experience to help mentors teach, and students learn more effectively.

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