Seriously!?! A Test EVERY Day?!?
Very early on in my teaching career, I realized the importance of helping my students develop study habits that promote success. The content I taught, anatomy and physiology, was very dense and did not lend itself well to “cramming” (although what content does?). I began giving students small quizzes every class meeting, covering the material I delivered the class period prior. The format of the quizzes wasn’t as important as the existence of some closed-book assessment that encouraged (OK, forced) students to study each and every day in small quantities rather than attempt to cram.
This practice also encouraged attendance, as I did not allow any make-up quizzes for any reason. My justification for doing this was that at the end of the semester, I dropped the two or three (depending on the course) lowest quiz scores from each student’s record, so if students missed a quiz, it became one of the dropped quizzes. I found that this seemed to get students to campus on days that they may have otherwise missed.
On class evaluation surveys, these frequent quizzes were cited positively more than any other measures that I attempted combined as positive tools for learning; many students wrote comments like “I hated that you gave us weekly quizzes at first, but looking back I can see that I needed that structure to succeed.” Several students contacted me semesters after I had them in class and thanked me for helping them perfect studying in small chunks.Recently, a study at the University of Texas reported benefits similar to what I learned in my own experiences.