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Appropriate workload? (number of quizzes specifically)

  1. Feb 25, 2015 #1


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    There are numerous topics that I want to discuss regarding workload, grading outlines..etc, but the number and frequency of quizzes is bugging me the most. College students are supposed to expect to be put under constant pressure, and study on regular (daily) basis; revising notes and doing homework after every lecture. But isn't having six quizzes every two weeks (in which the quiz happens to be six days before a midterm) too much?

    The argument for having a lot of frequent quizzes is that they are short and cover a reasonable amount of course material, and most importantly having proper studying material, resource, TAs...etc. that are accessible.

    What do you think is appropriate for quizzes or tests? I am taking four engineering courses; all of them have six quizzes every two weeks, and two of them have labs (lab reports and pre-labs). Do you think that attendance policies would play part in this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2015 #2
    One definite strategy for attendance is random pop quizzes. How long are these quizzes? Do they merely review content covered the past few days?
  4. Feb 25, 2015 #3


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    My college has a strict attendance policy that basically forces students to attend a certain percentage of total classes per course; they fail the course if they miss a large percentage of the classes.

    I particularly mentioned attendance because of an interesting read from an MIT blog, where a student claimed that he had to skip classes regularly due to scheduling and workload issues. He argued that he skipped a particular class because he would have a longer break between that lecture and the one following it, which gives him more time to actually do something in that small break.

    For my particular case, the quizzes are not pop quizzes, and they cover mostly two chapters (two weeks of studying). Students realistically have one weak to revise, as they have to study hard for quizzes instead of revising notes they took that day. The problem is, instructors cover basic stuff and very specific problems that they don't bring up in the said quizzes; we have very few TAs here and I don't recall any for the courses that I take. The quizzes are not short as the instructors think they are; they are short in questions (small error margin) and large in covered material (there are numerous Homework problems to be covered).

    Also, some instructors expect students to solve homework examples without manuals, TAs or anything; they think that students have to visit them during their very brief two-to-four office-hours that are during one or two days of the week (they don't respond to questions in e-mails as they think they should be asked in office hours). Getting stuck on a problem and wasting hours doing so for the others is neither productive nor fun.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  5. Feb 25, 2015 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    Some of my colleagues give short quizzes with every lecture period (I don't), and their rationale is that regular quizzes (which, as a whole, count about as much as homework or one test, IIRC) provide students with regular 'formative' assessments, and also regularly provide the teacher information regarding specific content-comprehension deficiencies.
  6. Feb 25, 2015 #5
    It really depends on the depth of the quiz. A 30-minute quiz is way over the top. A quick, 5-minute-then-leave quiz makes it easy for the professor to see where people are struggling, and for the students to know where they stand. Not only that, but having that many quizzes in a semester means that each one is worth very little. It helps students to not procrastinate on learning topics until the test as well. There are pros and cons...
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