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What Are Cooperative Quizzes?

Cooperative or group quizzes are typically the second part of a two-part assessment. The process begins with a traditional multiple-choice quiz taken by every student individually. Students are told in advance that a quiz will happen on a particular class session and know they are responsible for the material that will be covered. They each turn in their own answer sheet after a specified period of time.

In the second part of the assessment, students convene in their groups to re-take the quiz. Sometimes only a portion of the exam—the most challenging section—will be repeated. The group is given a single answer sheet and every member of the group will get the same score for this portion of the quiz. The student's final quiz grade can be a combination of their individual score and the group score, each weighted according to the degree of emphasis the instructor wants to place on individual and group knowledge. For instance, the individual score might count for 75% of the grade and the group score might make up the remaining 25%.

You can see an example of a group quiz in the Student Examples portion of the Video Workshop.

Because they can seem foreign to many students, it's best to position group quizzes as a positive opportunity to gain additional points if student's are prepared and ready to share their knowledge. Group quizzes alone, however, are not an accurate representation of individual performance, and a students final grade should not be based solely on group quizzes. It's also not practical to attempt group essay exams.

Note on Formal Cooperative Learning

Formal cooperative learning is not necessarily a natural mode of interaction. Students need guidance on how to formalize their group experience so that they can maximize the value of the experience.

Formal cooperative learning differs from informal cooperative learning in at least five ways.

  1. Student groups must be positively interdependent so that the success of any single member is dependent upon the entire group.
  2. Students are nevertheless individually accountable for their own performance and are evaluated on his or her own learning.
  3. Students must interact personally, that is, on a face-to-face basis.
  4. Students need to use and value interpersonal and small-group communication skills.
  5. Student groups need to reflect on the group's behavior and process. The group should talk about how well the group is performing and what could be improved.

While it's not necessary to always enact formal cooperative learning in cooperative quizzes, it can help if you foster the conditions for it to emerge.

For a larger discussion on what are termed “Pedagogies of Engagement” and the importance of encouraging active learning and “Peer Instruction,” see:

  • Smith, K.A., Sheppard, S. D., Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T. (2005). “Pedagogies of Engagement: Classroom-based practices.” Journal of Engineering Education 94, 87-101.
  • Crouch, C.H. and E. Mazur E. (2001). “Peer Instruction: Ten Years of Experience And Results,” American Journal of Physics 69: 970-977.