S3EP4: Creation of quizzes and exams to test yourself.

The Autodidactic Podcast
The Autodidactic Podcast
S3EP4: Creation of quizzes and exams to test yourself.
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Hello and welcome to episode 4 season 3 of the autodidactic podcast. I’m sorry about not getting an episode out last week. I recently started a new job and I just didn’t have time to record an episode. Nor did I manage to edit and post the YouTube video. The show isn’t sponsored or paid for, so really it is just best endeavours. However, I should be able to keep up the weekly schedule, although I don’t know if I’ll be able to always manage to get it out on the Tuesday.

It seems that I need to work on an episode about dealing with sudden changes to your study schedule. I’ve had to cut my ambitions back drastically with regards to the amount of things I’m going to be studying in the next few weeks. I’ve decided that I will carry on the memorisation tasks since they are straightforward, and I’ll keep the literature reading. This is because I can do this on my commute and hopefully will not have a lot of impact. The textbook study will become more difficult, but I plan to keep at least one science topic active.

However, most of the other topics will have to wait, and I’ll try to pick them up later. The good news is that I can still apply the learning and self-teaching techniques to the smaller scale of topics I’ll be studying. This means I can still show you how I am doing and what I am doing with the method I am using.

This week I want to look at how to develop quizzes to give to yourself each study period, but also use these quizzes to generate a test/exam for yourself at the end of each book. This is very straightforward.

I personally use a couple of methods for generating these questions. Let me describe the one which I use with textbooks first. Typically I’m going to be using the book in sections, normally chapters. So I create a folder for the textbook on my computer and start with a text file called Chapter1questions.txt and Chapter1answers.txt.

As I read through the chapter and review I build up questions and answers. I open the two files on my computer and then type the question into the file and then the answer in the other file. This allows me to later concatenate all the chapter files together into one long examination and I can also combine all the answers into one answer key.

You might want to just have one file to keep all the questions in, and one other file for the answers, but I find that breaking them up into small sections for quizzes and combining them later to generate a long exam works better for me.

When I complete the chapter one question and answer files I will leave it, then the next time I start to study I just open the question files for the last section I was one, in this example Chapter one. Save that file as a Chapter1quiz.txt and type my answers into that file. I can then compare with the answer file and review the things I got wrong.

When I create the questions I am typically using the information which I have highlighted in the book. For example if I highlight a header which is: “Areas of misuse in a biological environment.” then I simply change the header into a question: “Name the 10 areas of misuse in a biological environment.”

You can make your own questions easily from the material you have studied, but when you make them there are some things to remember:

  • Don’t make the answer yes or no. This is too easy and doesn’t force you to recall the information
  • Don’t use multiple choice for the same reason as above. Open ended questions are always best.
  • Fill in the blank questions can be useful, but should be limited.

To encourage better questions, think about and focus on some of the tougher or more important concepts you encountered in the lesson, and then propose questions that start with “explain” or that use “how” and “why” framing.

Take a page out of project-based learning and ask driving questions such as “Why do leaves have different shapes?”

Open ended or essay format questions are excellent for measuring higher level cognitive learning and overall comprehension of a subject. When writing good open-ended questions, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be sure that the test question clearly states the answer you are seeking. For example, ‘explain an election outcome’ is a poor question.
  • If you are looking to test comprehension, a good opening line for the test question is, ‘Explain the following…”
  • If you are seeking to test the student’s ability to analyse a concept, a good opening phrase for your test question is, ‘compare and contrast…..”

I am also trying to memorise things and here I have a different approach. I need to have a set of prompts and then I fill in the answers. For example I am memorising all the squares from 1 to 100 and to prompt myself to recall them I just printed a paper with the numbers 1 through 100 with one number per line and I tried to write the square down beside each number.

But to do it the other way from the square to the square root I can’t just list the numbers, because they would be in order and I could just count up or down. So in order to test myself going from squares to square roots I need the prompts to be in a more or less random order. So to do this I use excel and create a random number field beside the answer and then sort it by the random number and print the prompts.

So when you are trying to create recall questions you should only need the prompt.

That is all for this week, a very short episode, but hopefully I will be able to get back to doing a longer format show next week. If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to comment on the website, autodidactic.info or on the YouTube channel. I try to respond as quickly as I can. You can also email me at rick@autodidactic.info .

I will put a link to the YouTube channel in the show’s transcription and show notes on the website.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to record a YouTube video for the previous episode.

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