Like most University students, I dread the words, “put away your notes and take out a piece of paper.” It usually means one thing — a pop quiz. If you didn’t look over the assigned material the night before or decided to use the lecture as a midday nap, you could be in a trouble. If you’re lucky, the pop quiz could become a grade booster at the end of the semester. But regardless of your preparedness, the thought of a pop quiz can be nerve-wracking and even frightening. At the same time, these pop quizzes have the ability to serve as a potential benefit for students.
During the past two years, many professors and GSIs have tossed out the traditional paper pop quizzes in favor of electronic pop quizzes. These electronic pop quizzes are made possible through the device known as a Qwizdom. Recently, the Qwizdom has received an increased amount of attention due to its failure to meet many expectations of professors and students. While I agree with the Daily’s stance on replacing the Qwizdom due to its technological inefficiencies and cost, I disagree with the Daily’s position on its usage (Qwizdom fails, 12/06/2009).
The Daily’s editorial argued that using the Qwizdom as a device to take pop quizzes that count towards a student’s attendance grade “shouldn’t be classroom policy.” The classroom grading policy the Daily appears to favor is based on assigned essays and exams. But this policy, while idealistic, fails to consider the positive impact a Qwizdom can have in fostering learning.
A pop quiz, given on paper or through a Qwizdom, is an additional learning tool that encourages students to pay attention to lectures and assigned reading material. Like planned exams and tests, pop quizzes can promote greater comprehension of the course material. More importantly, if the pop quiz grading policy is fair and written into the syllabus, professors and GSIs have every right to use the Qwizdom as a tool for giving pop quizzes that count towards an attendance grade.
As students, we struggle to comprehend and complete every piece of required work in one semester. It can be extremely difficult to keep up with every requirement in each course. But in my experience, pop quizzes encourages maintaining a reading schedule and attending lecture, which in turn increases potential success in the course.
Last semester, 15 percent of my grade in a political science course was based on an attendance policy. This was enforced through frequent pop quizzes. Though it sounded terrible at first, the thought of an unexpected quiz pushed me to become more prepared for each class and read the required material in a timely fashion. The short pop quizzes, similar to Qwizdom quizzes, were multiple-choice questions based on assigned reading. These pop quizzes were productive and helpful in learning the material.
Additionally, the policy the professor set was reasonable and fair. The requirements were clearly outlined in the syllabus and students were fully aware that a pop quiz could occur during any lecture. The professor made it clear that missing several classes where quizzes were given would affect students’ grades. But the policy was flexible enough that all students could do reasonably well if they made the effort to come to class and read the material. Consequently, when it came time for the scheduled exams, I wasn’t knee deep in unread material. I had established a solid grasp of the material and was able to begin reviewing without rereading every assignment. The quizzes saved me from bulk memorization at exam time, since I had been learning throughout the whole semester. In this way, the pop quiz policy proved to be a successful learning tool in the classroom.
The Qwizdom has the potential to operate in the same effective manner. While the thought of pop quizzes may keep students like myself on the edge of their seats, it helped me to become a better student. If students can get past their initial fear of pop quizzes, they may realize that it can actually enhance their learning experiences.
Laura Veith is an LSA junior.