Completing the Feedback Loop: Quizzes in Learning Material

What is the importance of feedback after a quiz or test? Here’s a useful analogy: What quizzes are to the material, feedback is to the quiz.

Quizzes complete the loop. In that sense, saying just “Correct” or “Not correct” reduces the value of the quiz—just as course would be less useful if quizzes weren’t included.

Within the narrow topic of remedial feedback for quizzes (whether multiple-choice or not), there’s much ID that can go into it. Theoretically, you could design a different re-learning path for each kind and level of error that the learner makes on a quiz. In terms of a multiple-choice quiz, some choices are closer to correct, some are further away. One might be the exact opposite of the correct answer. The more diverse the feedback for each case, the more the learner gets. (And, of course, the harder it is to create/incorporate the feedback.)

Remedial feedback is often in the form of links to material that the learner should go over. There are quite a few possibilities here. You could point the learner to a range of material that he can explore, instead of the exact material that states the correct answer. Even more loosely, you could indicate only the topic that needs review. On the other side, you might provide additional details—material that wasn’t in the course.

A relatively inexpensive idea is to indicate to the learner how close he/she was to the correct answer. If part of the course is to be reviewed, knowing “how close” would make a difference to the re-learning.

Apart from the remedial action to be performed, the format of the feedback can be important. You could say “Your score is 7 out of 10. Please review ...” Alternatively, you could say what material the learner needs to review, and not provide a score at all. Post-review, in some cases it would be appropriate for the learner to have to take the quiz again. In other situations, it might be better to keep the quiz optional.

And yes, “Pretty is a feature,” when well-implemented and inobtrusive. If you have well-made effects and buttons, for example, it makes sense to go along with them in the feedback stage. We’ve seen courses where things seem bland after the timepoint of the test!