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Quizzes/Short Exercises


Short questions or tasks designed to assess knowledge, the application of knowledge, analytical, problem-solving or evaluative skills. Examples include quizzes (including MCQs), out-of-class, online or in-class exercises, short narrative pieces, an abstract/synopsis, data interpretation/analysis exercises and problem-based or problem-solving exercises.

What can it assess ?

Given they are usually done over a short period of time, they can assess students' ability to think and perform in a timely manner. Depending on the format, quizzes (either online, in-class, or in an examination) and short exercises can assess knowledge, the application of knowledge, analytical, problem solving, synthesis or evaluative skills. For example: 

  • Multiple choice questions and true/false are useful to assess the factual recall and knowledge acquisition whereas 
  • Short answer questions may be better used to test knowledge application, synthesis and analytical skills 
  • The production of a short abstract or short narrative piece can assess students’ ability to synthesise information, presenting the most relevant concepts 
  • Problem-solving exercises can assess students’ ability to find solutions to specific challenges and/or their numerical abilities.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Useful to engage and motivate students, to gauge students’ understanding or to reinforce learning
  • Can be used to provide formative, contextualised and instant feedback 
  • Suitable for use with large cohorts 
  • For online quizzes, there can be time savings as question banks can be built-up over time and reused. Also, depending on the question type, feedback and grade provision can be automated. For students, they may offer the flexibility to take the online quiz remotely and at a time that suits them.


  • Creating quizzes or any series of short exercises takes time, especially in the early phase of development 
  • With online quizzes it may be difficult to ensure academic integrity particularly when reusing question sets with multiple cohorts
  • Online quizzes/short exercises rely on students having access to technology and a reliable internet connection to complete
  • Certain types of quizzes may not be suitable for all disciplines particularly where there is not a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer
  • Short exercises can be challenging for students who struggle to synthesise information.

Design and Online Assessment Considerations


Firstly one should consider if quizzes or short exercises are the most appropriate way to assess the learning outcome(s). Is their intended purpose(s); for formative or summative purposes, higher or lower order outcomes?  It is also important to consider how the quiz/short exercise integrates with other module (and programme) teaching and learning activities and assessments. Given that these tasks are often completed within a short timeframe, ensure that the assessment criteria and /or instructions to students represent a realistic expectation of students' performance.  For quiz design,  consider how you might create higher order questions, be aware that the inclusion of some question types may over simplify the subject or poorly designed questions may lead to surface learning or guesswork. Consider the merits of quizzes/ short exercises as a method of formative assessment rather than summative assessment - regularly throughout a module or self-paced by students

Online Assessment

In terms of online quizzes it is essential to consider the overall design of the quiz, including the range of question types which are appropriate to include. This will depend on the purpose of the quiz that you are designing and what skills you are intending to assess (as outlined above). Build in time to initially design, test and setup quizzes in Brightspace. Ensure academic integrity of the quiz by: 

  • using original questions 
  • randomising the presentation of questions to each student
  • randomising the presentation of answers 
  • giving students different data sets 
  • displaying questions one at a time 
  • not using the same questions across multiple cohorts/trimesters. 

Finally, consider local/institutional support, the logistics and technical requirements to ensure the feasibility of running an online quiz as an exam and review the UCD Assessment Code of Practice. Online quizzes can be conducted in a secure environment using Brightspace, to administer, provide feedback and grade. Quizzes through the ‘special access’ feature through various settings allow for the provision of time-based accommodations to individual students as required. Tools and technologies to support these assessment types include: 

Preparing Students

  • Provide students with clear instructions on the format and the timeframe that they have to complete the quiz/short exercises 
  • Let students know the digital equipment/tools they need access to and if the assessment will be available to them remotely and or in an on-campus environment 
  • Ideally allow them a ‘practice run’ in advance of the quiz/short exercise, where they will complete and submit following the same instructions as you intend to provide

Learn More 

The following are some key resources that are currently available if you would like to learn more about this key assessment type.