A,B,C,D…..Or Something Else: Introducing Creativity Into Quizzes.

Dr Shonagh Douglas, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University.

There are now several online quiz platforms, many of which provide a free option for teaching.  Whilst many of these platforms have several question styles, the default is often the trusty multiple choice.  Now, I love a bit of multiple choice and find it super useful in getting a quick and easy-to-interpret opinion of the class and to give guided feedback by using common wrong answers as options (as an Accounting and Finance lecturer this is perhaps particularly easy to do and set up).

However, during lockdown, I read something about the benefits of being creative for even just a few minutes a day (I cannot remember where this was, nor can I give any critique of the reliability of this vague memory) and I decided to set myself a weekly challenge of finding a creative ‘challenge’ question which required active participation to find an answer.  This would be the final question at the end of a short weekly multiple-choice quiz that I ran at the end of each tutorial.  This was a primarily numeric subject and this approach quickly allowed me to evaluate student understanding and give directed feedback, as mentioned before, to what was a large cohort of students.  The students were on the whole quite reluctant speakers, with cameras firmly switched off, but responded to the quizzes beyond my expectations both in participation levels and creativity displayed in responses.  Excellent student feedback was also received from this novel and active approach.   Having said all that, and if I am being honest, I am not sure by the end who was enjoying it more: me thinking up the creative challenge questions or the students completing them!  Anyway, I thought it might be useful to share some of these ideas for others to use or adapt.  These were all answered via a short text answer, which is available on many of the free quiz platforms and often formed the basis of a larger discussion.

Finally, this was initially developed for online teaching, but I continued to use this same approach back in the classroom and it has been similarly well received by students.

Write a Jingle.

Is there something students always forget that they really need to know – challenge them to write a rhyme or jingle.  I was a bit nervous that I would get zero responses to this one, but they really impressed me.  After all the responses were in, I shared these and went through and picked a winner.  The tutorial ran three times a week due to the large cohort so at the end of the week I picked the top 3 and shared them over our virtual campus. An example of this in action can be seen below.

Google Translate

You can have a lot of fun with Google Translate.  I used this in a week where we were looking at foreign currency so it tied in well, but I am sure you could stretch various topics in different ways.  Again, I took a key piece of learning and summarised in a short sentence.  Each word was translated into a different language and given along with the country.  Students had to retranslate and make sense of what they had and input this as the answer.  From the answers I got, there were also some great lessons on translation here.  

Link to Separate Active Resources

Another week I included a link to a drop and drag relevant to that week’s topic.  On this one, they had to match pictures to correct valuation methods – some pictures were obvious and some less so!  Once they had them all correct, a code was revealed which they had to put into the quiz as the answer.     This again could work for various resources – I think I might try an online jigsaw next that has a hidden message or maybe make my own wordle, which is now easy to do with available websites, with the answer again related to the topic.  On an operational note, students found it easier if I also had the link available to share in the chat as some were doing the quiz on their phones and using a laptop for class. 

Find Me A….

Maybe not the quirkiest but it still worked well.  I asked students to search for a specific ‘real example’ or a link to a relevant journal, finding a specific journal article.  If you want to change it up a bit you could for example ask them to identify the 16th word of a specific abstract you want them to find and read.   This then gave the students a good bank of examples or journals they could use in written work.   I also was able to build in some searching tools tips here, such as asking them the type of words that work best as search terms and filtering by news stories.

Just a Trusty General Knowledge Quiz

And finally, just taking again a key takeaway from the class and turning it into a quiz.  A few general knowledge questions each with one answer which put together to make a memorable sentence linked to what we were doing.   They were free to search on the web for answers.

Other Tips

If you are using short-word answers many platforms will display these as they come in.  If they do, remember to switch your screen share off while they are doing this.   I didn’t have any problems with inappropriate answers – a few funny comments or emojis (mind blown!)  but these really just added to the fun.  If you are concerned about this though, by switching off the screen share you can have a quick scan of answers as they come in and before you share them with all the students.  

I found using random name generators, if available, really increased participation.   Students were much more likely to have a go and not worry about getting things wrong if nobody knew it was them.  

Finally, this was initially developed for online teaching, but I continued to use this same approach back in the classroom and it has been similarly well received by students.

Your ideas

It would be great to hear what others have done or ideas they have – please do post them in the comments below.

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