Labster asks quiz questions to help students understand
Every Labster virtual lab poses multiple choice questions as students progress through the simulation. The questions are contextually relevant, challenging, and they must be answered before it’s possible to move on to the next step. They are designed to help students learn as they work their way through the experience.
It’s not easy to “game” these questions. Each student sees the unnumbered questions in a randomized order, and that order changes each time they re-attempt a correct answer. In other words, there’s no way to get through it without carefully reading the answer options each and every time!
The best way to correctly answer a Labster quiz question is to click on the Theory tab in the Labpad and read the Theory pages. All the answers can be found there!
Nevertheless, some students will always try to cheat. In some cases, these students have been able to find answers to Labster quiz questions posted by their peers on the web. Labster takes this very seriously, so please share these violations with us and we’ll do our best to have them removed. In the future, Labster will develop a new feature to permit instructors to modify and customize quiz questions.
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What can you do if some of your students are posting and sharing the answers to Labster’s embedded quiz questions on the web?
Here are some of our suggestions:
- View Labster as a formative assessment rather than a summative assessment. Many teachers reduce the grade impact of Labster quizzes and use them as feedback to help students identify the gaps in their understanding (as well as their achievements).
- Develop your own summative assessment with unique questions based on the experiments, concepts, and techniques in Labster virtual labs.
- Stay tuned for a future feature from Labster that will permit quiz customization.
Here are some reasons why Labster quiz questions can be powerful learning tools:
1. Questions help motivate students to find the answers
For students, it can feel like the purpose of a test is to produce a grade rather than to assess and advance their learning.
Labster’s quiz questions feel different.
We use an embedded, “assess as you go” approach so students can learn from input and feedback without feeling like they are taking a test. The more students become aware of their own improvement, the more likely they are to feel motivated to learn.
“When students play Labster, they learn and are assessed at the same time. It’s actually the same for most games you play for fun. Nobody playing World of Warcraft would say “oh, I’m being assessed on my skills as an alt warrior” — obviously they are, but it doesn’t feel like it, and it’s not boring. Whether you win or not, whether you complete the level or not, there’s an assessment. And it’s hugely motivating.“
— Mads Bonde, Labster Co-Founder
2. Labster’s Quiz Questions Support Student-Centered Learning
Many instructors use Labster questions to help students to recognize and correct their own knowledge gaps, and therefore limit the impact of Labster quiz results on final course grades.
Within the Labster experience, students can access explanatory learning content (Theory pages) and useful hints that help them find the right answer to the questions.
In traditional lab courses, students working in small groups often rely on the observations and analyses of their lab partners. In Labster, each individual in the class has the opportunity – and responsibility – to attempt an answer and receive feedback.
Teachers can review students’ progress in the Labster Dashboard, observe the number of attempts and correct or incorrect responses, and provide one-on-one coaching as needed.
Receiving feedback from a formative assessment aligns with the principles of student-centered learning because it supports the learner’s capacity to actively construct their own knowledge (Nicol & Macfarlane‐Dick, 2006). Immediate feedback from Labster provides students with guidance that helps them succeed in other course assessments that may have a more significant impact on their grade.
Ways to Assess Students with Labster Quiz Questions
Most teachers value technologies that help them save time with automated grading, especially when they have remote and hybrid classes or high-enrollment science courses.
Labster quiz scores are automatically calculated and can provide important and timely information to instructors as well as students.
As you consider how to use assessment in your course, it may be useful to reflect on your goal in assigning credit to the task of completing Labster.
Perhaps you have found that applying grade value increases the likelihood that your students complete the virtual labs.
This is a perfectly valid and important consideration. In this scenario, the Labster quiz scores could carry a relatively low impact while still accomplishing your goal.
We’ve seen that instructors using Labster often grade students on the score from their “best” attempt at the quiz rather than their first attempt.
“For my lab course…the Labster scores are worth very little. I think it’s about 5 percent of their mark. They get multiple attempts and I count the highest one. I really want it to be more like a gamified intervention.”– Felicia Vulcu, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University
What Kind of Assessments Can You Use with Labster?
Some teachers create their own course assessments around Labster virtual lab simulations in addition to other resources. Here are a few ideas from Yale’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning for different kinds of assessments you can create.
|Formative Assessments||Summative Assessments|
|In-class discussions||Instructor-created exams|
|Clicker questions||Standardized tests|
|Low-stakes group work||Final projects|
|Weekly quizzes||Final essays|
|1-minute reflection writing assignments||Final presentations|
|Homework assignments||Final reports|
Labster’s immersive, interactive learning experience offers instructors a lot of options for different ways to incorporate virtual labs into their curricula. Whether you are an educator looking for a formative assessment tool, a low-stakes grading tool, or content that you can use in developing your own unique summative assessments, you’ll have plenty of flexibility with Labster.
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References in this post:
Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane‐Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in higher education, 31(2), 199-218.
Yale University (n.d.) Formative and Summative Assessments. Retrieved from https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/Formative-Summative-Assessments.