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A comparison of in-class and online quizzes on student exam performance

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THIS STUDY evaluated the use of Web-based assessment in the instruction of students enrolled in a Theories of Personality class. During 1999, we compared 297 undergraduates who took online quizzes with 291 undergraduates who took traditional paper-and-pencil quizzes. All online quizzes were generated and maintained by the class instructor using Mallard (an asynchronous Web-based assessment program), which allowed students to choose when, where, and how long to work on their quizzes. Mallard students performed significantly better on achievement criteria (four inclass exams) than non-Mallard students. Survey data indicated that most students reported being “very satisfied” with Mallard. These findings followed similar trends in other forms of computer-assisted instruction. Future research and potential pedagogical applications of Web-based assessment are discussed. Despite the initial time investment required to generate online quizzes with Mallard, student and instructor experiences with the program suggest that it is a promising technology for enhancing instruction in higher education.

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Correspondence to Eros DeSouza.

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Preliminary findings were presented at the Teaching Institute of the American Psychological Society, Miami, florida, on June 8, 2000.


Eros R. DeSouza received his PhD in Community Psychology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1990. During the summer of 1992, Dr. DeSouza was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, and in 1999 he became a State Farm Insurance fellow for incorporating technology into instruction. He has been a visiting scholar in Brazil and China. His research interests include cross-cultural issues on education and the workplace, especially the interaction of culture with gender, race/ethnicity, and social economic status. Dr. DeSouza has published many articles and presented numerous papers at regional, national, and international conferences.

Matthew T. Fleming received his MS in Clinical Psychology from Illinois State University in 2001. While at Illinois State University, Mr. Fleming worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant from August 1998 to May 2000. His research interests include ADHD, aggression, and technology in the delivery of mental health services. Mr. Fleming is presently working as a counselor for the Assertive Community Treatment program at Prairie Center Health Systems, 3545 N. Vermilion, Danville, Illinois 61832.

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DeSouza, E., Fleming, M. A comparison of in-class and online quizzes on student exam performance. J. Comput. High. Educ. 14, 121–134 (2003).

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