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Course Creation

What Quiz Format Should You Use in Your Online Course? 7 Different Types

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By Scott Winstead

quiz format

As an online course creator or instructional designer, one of the most important things you have to do is make sure your students are actually learning. If they’re not absorbing the materials in your course, then it’s a good sign something is wrong with your eLearning curriculum and needs to be fixed.

During my past two decades as an eLearning creator, I’ve learned one of the best ways to make sure students are learning is by quizzing them throughout the course.

But what type of quiz should you use to assess your students? Which quiz format is best? There are lots of different types of quizzes that instructors use, and what you choose will depend on what type of questions your students should be answering. Each of these types of quizzes has a specific purpose and scenario where it would be the most beneficial.

In the guide below, I’ll look at 7 common quiz types and provide insights based on my experience into when each type should be used.

What are the Different Types of Quizzes?

By understanding the different kinds of quizzes and their uses, you can better determine what type of quiz format you should use when creating your online course.

1. Multiple Choice

Multiple choice quizzes are one of the most popular quiz types and can be used in a variety of ways. They are simple to create and can assess a wide range of knowledge.

Multiple choice quizzes are also very versatile and act as a fairly reliable way of measuring learning outcomes.

They are best used when you want to test students on what they know and how well they can apply that information. They can also be used to review material before a test.

When creating multiple choice quiz questions, you should make them challenging by including choices that seem reasonable and plausible so you can really test if your students actually know the information. A good multiple choice question is one that encourages students to think critically and select the correct choice from a few plausible answer options.

2. Matching

Matching quizzes typically involve two separate columns of words, phrases, or images that pair with one another in some way.

Matching quizzes are good when you want to test how well your students can recall what they’ve seen in a course.

This is a great quiz type if you have taught vocabulary, definitions of concepts, or even just names and faces.

3. Fill in the blank

A fill in the blank quiz is what you get when you finish a word with what’s missing, like what comes after “Barack Obama” in the sentence “Barack Obama was a ____ in the United States.”

You would use this kind of quiz to find out what your students know and remember.

Fill in the blank quizzes require students to actually recall information rather than just being able to recognize the answer on the page or screen as they can with multiple choice questions.

With fill in the blank quizzes, it’s much harder for students to guess or get lucky and choose the right answer because they have to actually recall what they’ve been learning. These quiz questions truly test their knowledge. However, fill in the blank quizzes can sometimes be a bit more tedious to grade as it’s possible there might be multiple correct answers for a question if you didn’t phrase it carefully.

4. Yes or No

Yes or no quizzes are a great way to test what your students know and don’t know, what they can or can’t do.

These types of quiz questions typically have only two possible answers, one being yes and the other being no.

They’re simple to create and easy for students to understand what’s being asked of them.

Use this type of quiz when you want a clear understanding of what your student knows about a subject or if a certain task has been completed correctly or not.

For example, what was the correct answer on a math quiz? Or an online quiz that determines which task has been completed properly?

These types of questions are good for formative assessment.

5. True or False

True or false quizzes are one of the simplest kinds of quizzes available because there are only two possible answer choices. They’re also one of the most common type of quizzes for teachers to create because they’re fairly simple to grade and can be used in a variety of ways.

For example, True or False quizzes could be used to test knowledge on a certain subject or as an assessment of understanding after reading a text. They can also be used to assess comprehension skills or to see if students have completed tasks correctly.

This type of quiz format is best used when you want to test students’ understanding, what they know, or what they have learned.

As with other types of quizzes, you should create the questions so that it’s difficult for your students to guess what the correct answer is, requiring them to actually know what they’ve been learning.

6. Short Answer

Short answer quizzes are what you get when you supply your student with a sentence or two that they need to complete.

For example, you might ask “What are the 3 branches of government?”

These types of quizzes are good for testing what students have been learning from your course as well as keeping them engaged.

Like fill in the blank questions, short answer quizzes require students to really rely on their memory as they can’t just pick from several choices presented to them.

This is best used when you have key information or principles that learners have to be able to recall well into the future.

7. Essay

Including essay questions on your quiz can help you gain more insight into what your students really understand about in-depth concepts and gives you an understanding of their unique perspectives on the material.

These types of quiz questions can be tricky because not all quizzing software allows essay length responses. This is especially true for those that are automatically graded as is the case with most online quizzes.

The biggest drawback with using essay questions in your course is that there’s some grey area involved in grading them. There’s not always a 100% right or wrong answer. In fact, there can be multiple correct answers when it comes to essay questions.

It can also be a bit time-consuming to grade these types of questions because you have to read everything thoroughly in order to get a clear understanding what your students really know and what they don’t.

Having said that, essay questions make for very engaging, interactive quizzes and they can be a great way to assess more complex concepts. Plus, they give you a better insight into your students’ thought processes, which can help when assessing their overall knowledge on the subject matter.

We recommend having a clear and specific set of instructions for what should be included in an essay-type response so that all students are working within the same parameters.

Tips for Making Your Quizzes

No matter what type of quiz format you choose to include in your eLearning materials, there are a few tips that will help you when creating your assessments.

  • Use a quiz software to help — There are lots of great tools out there for creating quizzes of all types. Quiz makers like Fyrebox, iSpring, and ProProfs — to name a few — make it super easy to create high quality assessments for your online courses.
  • Keep questions simple but challenging — Clarity is always important when creating quizzes. This will help to ensure you get consistent, accurate results from your student responses.
  • Ask students for feedback — After delivering a quiz, reach out to your students and ask what they thought about it. You might be surprised what you hear back.
  • Have fun! — Yes, quizzes are an important part of what you do as an instructor, but don’t forget that they can also be fun for your students.

Final Thoughts

As an experienced instructional designer who has built numerous online courses, I can tell you that selecting the right type of quiz for your course is a nuanced decision. The answer truly depends on various factors, each playing a crucial role in determining the most effective quiz format.

I encourage you to really think about the purpose of your quizzes. Are they meant to reinforce learning, assess comprehension, or provide feedback? Different formats serve different purposes. For instance, multiple-choice quizzes are great for testing recall and understanding, while essay-type questions are better suited for assessing deeper comprehension and critical thinking.

Your course goals are also paramount and have to be considered. If your course is designed to impart foundational knowledge, quizzes that focus on recall and understanding might be more appropriate. However, for advanced courses, you might want quizzes that challenge students to apply concepts in new contexts.

The nature of the material also dictates the quiz format. Some subjects lend themselves well to certain types of questions. For example, STEM subjects might benefit from quizzes that include problem-solving or calculation-based questions, whereas humanities might be better assessed through short answer or essay questions.

Most importantly, think about what your students need to learn to meet their learning objectives, and equally, what they don’t know. Diagnostic quizzes can be effective at the beginning of a course to gauge prior knowledge and identify gaps. Formative quizzes throughout the course can help track progress and adjust teaching strategies accordingly.

I’ve learned there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing quiz types for an online course. It requires a thoughtful consideration of your course objectives, content, delivery environment, and learners’ needs. The best choice will align with these factors, ensuring that the quizzes are not just assessments, but powerful tools for learning and engagement.

Have a question about what type of quiz format you should use in your eLearning? Comment below and we’ll help you out.

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