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Using Quizzes and Item Analysis to Inform Teaching and Learning

Instructor: Gordon Rule
Scope: Course- 03-232 Biochemistry for Engineering Students, Biology Department, Mellon College of Science
Assessment Tool/Method: Using Quizzes and Item Analysis to Inform Teaching and Learning


Even though students have taken a known sequence of courses, their actual prior knowledge and misconceptions are difficult to know.


Determine which concepts need more time in lecture, examples, weighting on problem sets, etc.


Tests were developed for administration after some initial exposure to material. The quizzes were administered using OLI (open learning initiative) because it has the capability to produce reports from question pools.


Students are assigned reading in the text to prepare for the pre-lecture quizzes. The quizzes are generated from question pools. The quizzes are opened before a week's series of lectures and remain open until the beginning of the following week.  The 14 quizzes in the semester are worth 10% of the course grade and students are encouraged to take the quizzes prior to lecture by awarding bonus points.


The data in the assessment reports were used to guide elaboration of lecture material and enabled me to tailor lectures to the needs of the students. The quizzes also served to encourage students to read lecture material before lecture.  An additional benefit was that the quizzes allowed students to self-assess their knowledge on topics using low-stakes quizzes.


OLI can give quick, user-friendly reports, on quizzes that are generated from pools but a large question pool required.  OLI set-up is a bit daunting and the learning curve is steep. In addition, there is no ability to produce aggregate results with a sub-pool or between sub-pools, leading to poor statistics (small number of students/question). Nevertheless, OLI's ability to generate feedback on quizzes derived from pools is worth the effort.

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