Using Mastery Quizzes in Online History Classes

Teaching history survey courses online has its challenges, but ensuring that students attain the foundational knowledge required to move onto assignments requiring higher order thinking skills is not challenging if the instructor can implement adaptive, mastery quizzing.

On our campus we use WWNorton Publishing for many of our history textbooks, and Norton has a quiz tool called “InQuizitive” that allows students to master their foundational knowledge in a fun way.

With InQuizitive, students see a questions and wager points based on how confident they feel about knowing the correct answer. This is an excellent way for students to realize how much or little they know about a topic, increasing metacognition.

InQuizitive also mixes up the question formats so students do not get bored with the same old multiple choice questions. There are map-based questions, video-based questions, matching, sorting, true and false, and other types of questions to add variety to the students’ experience.

These quizzes are adaptive, too. Students are presented three levels of questions. All aspects of a particular chapter are addressed in level 1, and the level 2 and 3 questions circle back to topics the student answered incorrectly. Feedback is provided for each response, whether the students answers correctly or incorrectly.

I have used InQuizitive for several semesters and have received extremely positive feedback from my students. They initially dislike the quizzing because it takes longer than they expect – between 60 and 120 minutes for them to attain a score equivalent to 100%, or ten points in the gradebook. Once they become accutomed to how the wagering works and how the feedback helps them they start enjoying the quizzes.

Norton also gives the instructors access to data about each question – the difficulty rating, related learning objective, and how my students did on a specific question compared to global users. Plus, instructors can customize quizzes to a certain extent, eliminating questions that do not align with their course objectives.

I would, ideally, like to move my courses to Open Educational Resources (OERs), but I cannot replicate this type of formative, adaptive assessment on my own. Fortunately Norton is relatively inexpensive; the students pay less than $50 for access tot he ebook and quizzes.

I would love to know how other online history instructors ensure their students attain foundational knowledge. Please email me or post a comment if you use a different product or have come up with a different method.

Here are more resources about InQuizitive, including a link to the old video game QBert, which the InQuizitive icon reminds me of daily: