Part 7: Spring 2018 Labs

103 Textbook-Associated Adaptive Quizzing Tool with Andrew Lokuta – 02.22.2018

Many textbooks offer adaptive quizzing tools to assess content comprehension. These quizzes are content-aligned and mastery-based, with questions tailored to students’ self-reported confidence (e.g. I know it, I think so, I’m unsure, I have no idea). The tools then use an algorithm to determine what questions should be repeated or come next, until students show mastery. This is considered “intelligent tutoring” and sounds ideal in theory but has some flaws in reality. Andrew Lokuta shares a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when this technology is utilized in a large-class setting.


  • Adaptive teaching tools have the potential to provide different levels of assessment and challenge for a variety of students (sophomores through graduate students).
  • Student-centered problems include lack of instruction-reading, mis-clicks while navigating the quiz, missed deadlines and requests for exceptions, and lack of validation that the task is completed.
  • Technology problems include downtime, especially with issues the help desk can’t support immediately.
  • Small problems can add up to a lot of time managing teaching instead of teaching.
  • Students are creatures of habit. Be consistent about deadline hours from test to test!
  • The “Challenge” button allows students to challenge the correct answers. An email gets sent to the textbook author. Many students aren’t aware this happens, which is reflected in the tone of many emails.
  • Students who start and complete the assignments sooner tend to be the ones who do better in the class. The earlier finishers are also the ones who spend less time to finish. Does this indicate they make connections more quickly?
  • The goal of quizzing tools is to have students read the book and be exposed to content — even content not explicitly covered in lecture or class activities. The quizzing process should help them ask questions, make connections, spur curiosity, increase conversations, and think ahead (vs. cramming).
  • After several semesters of working with publishers’ quizzing tools, Drew is going to use the Canvas quizzing tool to try to hopefully accomplish the same goals with fewer snags.
  • Piazza is a Canvas-compatible tool that can help eliminate students posing the same question multiple (hundreds of) times. (New to Piazza? See the 2.26.2016 Lab activity sheet and try it out, and reference the 12.08.2017 Lab activity sheet for information on how to use Piazza in Canvas.)

For more information on adaptive quizzing, take a look at Drew’s slides from the session.

Active Teaching Exchanges are held Thursdays from 1-2pm in room 120, Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.). Check out the upcoming Exchanges or read the recaps from past Exchanges.

Like the Active Teaching Exchanges, Active Teaching Labs feature instructors sharing their teaching experiences with tools and techniques, but also provide time for hands-on exploration of tools. Labs are are held Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in room 120, Middleton Building as well as some Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30pm in room 302 Middleton Building. See the full calendar of both events. Stay informed about upcoming Labs and Exchanges by signing up for regular announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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