Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Online Quiz Time Limits and Learning Outcomes in Economics

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

Online Quiz Time Limits and Learning Outcomes in Economics

Article excerpt

Introduction

Much of the research regarding the effects of time limits on scholastic achievement aims to determine whether a time limit on an assessment affects student grades on said assessment. Researchers have not typically analyzed the effects on students learning after the assessment is completed. While students likely learn very little on a closed-book in-class exam, there are certainly reasons to believe that online quizzes, where students are allowed to use textbooks and notes, don't just assess skills; rather, these quizzes cause student learning. Thus, the appropriate question is not "Does a time limit on an online quiz affect scores on the online quiz"? Instead, this paper addresses a more compelling research question: "Do time limits for online quizzes affect student knowledge following the quiz?" In doing so, one can gauge the longer term impacts of the timing mechanism used on online quizzes.

There are two key aspects to student learning: 1) Accumulation of knowledge and 2) Retention of accumulated knowledge. Untimed online quizzes reward students who accumulate enough information to successfully answer specific quiz questions. If the student has not prepared enough or does not recall a piece of information, the student has time to carefully search her notes, textbook, or other materials until she finds the answer. The student's accumulation efforts are rewarded with a better quiz score. In the process, the student accumulates potentially vast amounts of information. For this reason untimed quizzes may be a very good method of instruction under the following circumstances:

1) The desired learning outcome can be focused using targeted quiz questions.

2) Students feel the reward justifies the extra effort required to search for the solution.

3) Students retain the knowledge accumulated.

Whether each of these conditions is met varies, depending upon the course and the nature of the material. The first condition might be impractical depending upon the subtleties of the material. The second depends upon the motivation of the student and the impact of each question on the student's grade. This last condition is potentially the most troublesome. Students may accumulate enough information to choose the correct answer without understanding why the answer is correct. The student may also have simply searched for a similar example to the question asked without effort to retain the knowledge accumulated.

Timed quizzes, as a result of their short duration, do not reward students to accumulate more knowledge during or after the quiz. Therefore, students must try to anticipate what material will be covered by the quiz and prepare accordingly. If students have not adequately prepared, they will likely be unable to search for the correct answer during the online quiz due to the succinct allotted time. Thus, they have no short term incentive to accumulate additional knowledge. However, they do have incentive to expend effort to retain the information, at least long enough to answer the questions on the quiz, since they cannot obtain this information quickly enough once the quiz has begun. For this reason timed quizzes may be a very good method of instruction under the following circumstances:

1) The desired learning outcome is broader than can be effectively quizzed.

2) Students feel the expected reward to studying a particular piece of material is worth the effort even given the uncertainty of which questions will be asked.

3) That the students can retain the information longer than just for the quiz.

Whether the totality of the information collected and retained long enough to be recalled the next day is greater for the timed or the untimed quiz is the purpose of this paper.

However how much knowledge is accumulated and how much is retained is strongly influenced by student effort. The authors use the approach of Devadoss and Foltz (1996). Student utility is given by U = U(C, R, E) where C is a composite consumption good, R is leisure and E is educational performance. …

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