Gamification in courses, also known as “Quizzing” in the online learning business, is routinely used in a range of teaching formats, because human beings are competitive creatures and enjoy the challenge. They are often viewed more as fun than work, but they can deliver impressive gains in retention of information, and make a valuable contribution to on-line courses.
There are several types of quiz, and the choice of type will depend on the material being tested, the depth of testing, particular aims such as fluent self-expression or ability to summarise information, and the need for feedback in terms of scores and/or detailed evaluations.
- SINGLE-CHOICE : a brief answer is required which will be right or wrong;
- MULTIPLE-CHOICE : the learner selects the right answer from a list;
- SORTING-TASKS : rank an order from given choices, or the elimination of wrong choices;
- CLOZE-TASK : correctly fill in gaps in sentences; at more sophisticated levels, answers may be required in complete sentences or even in essay form.
Interaction improves learning
All quiz types can be enhanced by the addition of media such as video, diagrams and graphics. They can be given time-limits, they can measure and reward faster responses, and they can require successful completion before the learner can progress to the next part of the course.
One of the most valuable features of the quiz is the feedback it can offer. This can be instantaneous in the case of the more mechanical tasks (single- and multiple-choice etc) or can extend – with essays, for example, to full evaluations. Scores can accumulate over several tasks to generate an overall level of achievement.
There are benefits too in increased motivation: as the reader progresses through text, his attention typically declines. Changing the lesson style from passive (reading) to active (answering questions, performing decision-making tasks etc) causes a re-focusing of attention as the mind copes with the new problem, and this in turn improves retention.
The quiz can both summarise and reinforce a topic just completed, by disguising simple repetition of key ideas in different formats, and potentially making less interesting material enjoyable and memorable in the process. The learner is motivated to succeed by natural competitiveness as well as by a desire to acquire new knowledge and qualifications.