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Research Article

Daily Online Testing in Large Classes: Boosting College Performance while Reducing Achievement Gaps

  • James W. Pennebaker mail,

    Pennebaker@mail.utexas.edu (JWP); samg@austin.utexas.edu (SDG)

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States of America

    X
  • Samuel D. Gosling mail,

    Pennebaker@mail.utexas.edu (JWP); samg@austin.utexas.edu (SDG)

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States of America

    X
  • Jason D. Ferrell

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States of America

    X
  • Published: November 20, 2013
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079774

Reader Comments (1)

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My experience

Posted by nkornell on 26 Nov 2013 at 14:17 GMT

I did something similar the first time I taught intro to cognitive here at Williams College. I think the main benefit to students was it forced them to keep up with the reading and attend class. But as a warning to people thinking of adopting this scheme: I had multiple students write in their evaluation forms a variant of "I think the daily quizzes helped me learn but I hated them." They can be stressful even if they're low stakes. To my mind, whether a teacher should adopt daily for-credit quizzes depends on the students in his/her class; daily quizzing is probably especially helpful for students who need a strong hand pushing them to do the reading and come to class.

No competing interests declared.

RE: My experience

Pennebaker replied to nkornell on 28 Nov 2013 at 02:13 GMT

The first time we taught the TOWER course described in the PLOS article, our course ratings dropped to the lowest level we had seen since we started teach together 6 years earlier. However, this last year when we taught it the second time, we received some of the highest ratings we have ever received. There is some evidence that teaching any radically new course is associated with lower ratings. Once the instructors are more comfortable with the new format, students seem to adapt seamlessly.
--Jamie Pennebaker and Sam Gosling

No competing interests declared.

RE: RE: My experience

cstangor replied to Pennebaker on 10 Dec 2013 at 21:13 GMT

We here at the University of Maryland Psychology Department routinely conduct for-credit testing via our in-class response system (clickers), but we also do similar testing using online but out of class methods (regular course quizzes). Our hunch (never rigorously tested) is that both are helpful in keeping students engaged and improving performance.

One advantage of the in-class approach seems to be increasing class attendance. One disadvantage of the in-class approach seems to be increasing attendance. 300 intro psyc students, many taking the course for a gened requirement, sitting in cramped quarters, each with an open laptop, can create a variety of less-than-optimal side effects :)

Whether the approach will be beneficial across a wide variety of instructors and courses remains to be determined. Nevertheless Kudos to the authors for taking the question seriously and congrats on the successful implementation.

No competing interests declared.