Active Collaborative Quizzes: Increasing action, expression and engagement


Typical undergraduates do not always understand or appreciate the importance of art to society. So Ms. Lillian Nave strives to help her students to see the relevance of her class in their lives and creates assessment strategies to involve students in knowledge creation. By using active collaborative quizzes Ms. Nave provides a real-world corollary to problem solving that increases the student’s depth of knowledge in a relaxed and encouraging environment. Her collaborative quiz functions not only as an assessment tool, but also introduces the student to multiple ways of learning and sharing knowledge.

She asserts, “I want to cultivate creativity in my courses and that includes challenging my students to take risks, embrace failure, and learn from their mistakes, all in an environment of growth.” Each class is a new journey in which Ms. Nave and her students learn and create knowledge together, where the teacher acts more like a curator of information rather than an instructor. In her class, the students lead, and the class itself becomes an instrument of learning, change, development and growth for the student.

Ms. Nave has taught art history at Appalachian State University since 2007 and now focusses her attention on her interdisciplinary First Year Seminar courses. She enjoys teaching students in their first year of college and encourages her students to find the learning methods that are most effective for them.

UDL Alignment

Each College STAR module explains how a particular instructional practice described within the module aligns with one or more of the principles of UDL. This module aligns with Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression, Principle II, and Provide Multiple Means of Engagement, Principle III.

Module Alignment with Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression

This module provides options for expression and communication in the use of multiple media for communication (Guideline 5.1). During the course of Ms. Nave’s active collaborative quiz, two to five students use manipulatives to answer a series of questions on readings, lectures, and videos on the subject. Therefore, students use multiple forms of communication including verbal, aural, kinetic and written skills. For example, students listen and discuss their answers before writing them down as well as use manipulatives to demonstrate examples of architectural terms. The essay questions in the quiz also require in-depth discussions so that a full answer requires participation from all group members fostering diverse ways of communicating.

Module Alignment with Provide Multiple Means of Engagement

This module provides multiple means of engagement in minimizing threats and distraction (Guideline 7.3), fostering collaboration and community (Guideline 8.3), optimizing relevance, value, and authenticity (Guideline 7.2), increasing mastery-oriented feedback (Guideline 8.4), and promoting expectations and beliefs that optimize motivation (Guideline 9.1).

The collaborative aspect of the quiz minimizes threats (Guideline 7.3) by providing a more relaxed and less stressful assessment environment. Students are more confident entering into a collaborative quiz as opposed to an individual quiz, and therefore, learning becomes more focused on the material and less on the anxiety of assessment.

Active collaborative quizzes require students to work together to solve problems, which fosters collaboration and community (Guideline 8.3). Students become acquainted with their fellow classmates through the assessment process and feel a part of a shared learning community. The shared endeavor fosters a sense of community membership, while the format of the quiz encourages in-depth discussions of the material so that a complete answer is a result of rich and robust interplay and collaboration amongst peers.

The collaborative quiz optimizes relevance, value, and authenticity (Guideline 7.2) through student interaction and group problem solving. Discussions give students the opportunity to hear the perspectives of other students as well as share their ideas, increasing the relevance of the material. Discussions give students the opportunity to hear and evaluate different interpretations of the material, increasing the value of information. Discussions also foster effective communication between students, cultivating this skill in an experiential learning environment that is more authentic than an individual assessment. In effect, group problem solving provides a relevant, valuable, and authentic experience in developing skills that are useful in any future career.

The discussions prompted during the collaborative quiz also increase mastery-oriented feedback (Guideline 8.4). Students discuss questions at length and therefore must analyze the information presented to the group and integrate multiple perspectives from the group members before creating a unified response. This deepens the level of study of the concepts and offers a rich, robust, and thorough understanding of the material.

Finally, active collaborative quizzes provide options for self-regulation; specifically, they promote expectations and beliefs that optimize motivation (Guideline 9.1). Students entering a collaborative quiz desire to play an active role and be positive contributors to the team. They know that not only their own grade, but also the grade of others, is dependent upon their knowledge and efforts. This positive peer pressure encourages students to work harder so that they do not disappoint members of their team. They are motivated and encouraged to work individually because they know that others will need to rely on them as members of the team.

Instructional Practice

This module addresses information about active collaborative quizzes with manipulatives, which is clearly linked to two principles of Universal Design for Learning- Multiple Means of Action and Expression, and Multiple Means of Engagement.

Active collaborative quizzes with manipulatives offer a form of assessment that provides the students with additional learning opportunities while being assessed. Students are able to use multiple forms of communication (oral, aural, kinetic and written) in their small groups to demonstrate their knowledge during the quiz. Furthermore, the group format of the quiz minimizes test anxiety, encourages collaboration, positively motivates students to perform for their team, provides an opportunity for in-depth discussions, and more closely approximates real-world situations than an individual quiz.

What is it?

What is an Active Collaborative Quiz with Manipulatives?

An active collaborative quiz with manipulatives is an assessment tool that requires students to work together to answer questions in small groups of two to five students using oral, aural, kinetic, and written communication skills. The format of quizzes may require short answers, multiple choice questions, true/false statements, essays, and demonstrations. Each small group works together on one set of questions and all students in the group receive the same grade.

Why use It?

Why use Active Collaborative Quizzes with Manipulatives?

Typically, quizzes are solitary endeavors fraught with anxiety for beginning students. In her art history survey course-which is a general education requirement for many students Ms. Nave has seen low motivation to learn a very different kind of subject matter. She says, “In order to make the process of learning a little less anxiety-provoking and a little more fun, I developed several interesting approaches to the new and somewhat daunting topic of art history. I make it a community rather than a solitary endeavor and offer several different ways for students to excel in demonstrating their understanding of this new information.” The group format gives students a chance to work together to achieve a shared goal and the active nature of the quiz involves the students in experiential learning.

How do they work?

How do Active Collaborative Quizzes with Manipulatives work in the classroom?

In the first example shown below, the quiz requires students to answer multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer questions followed by a demonstration. Ms. Nave explains

This was the first quiz of the semester in an art history course and so I was testing for basic knowledge of art historical terms and also spatial and conceptual understandings of new terms introduced in the chapter. I provided wooden building blocks for students to spatially create the architectural terms rather than give a written definition. Several of the terms were spatially very similar and so students were also instructed to label which demonstration correlated to the architectural term.
- Lillian Nave


The use of building blocks during the quiz aligns with UDL Guideline 5.1: Use multiple media for communication. Ms. Nave provides these manipulatives to offer a form of expression of knowledge along with written, oral, and aural communication within the group.


Collaborative Quiz Question Template

Figure 1: Collaborative Quiz Question Template


The students are also given a separate answer sheet that allows for more space to answer questions. The answer sheet also provides a place for students to come up with a team name that has something to do with the topic of the reading. Therefore, students are able to have an “icebreaker” activity in which all members could have equal input. Some of the more inventive names of teams for the first quiz on art from the prehistoric period are “The Neolithic Kids on the Block” and “Die Frauen von Willendorf,” an all-female team.

Student Answer Sheet for Collaborative Quiz

Figure 2: Student Answer Sheet for Collaborative Quiz


What the students do not realize amidst the fun and frivolity of creating their team name is that they are getting more and more comfortable with each other as they begin their assessment exercise (UDL Guideline 8.3: Foster collaboration and community). The collegial atmosphere makes the process far less onerous and one of collaboration rather than competition. View the video below to see the quiz in action in the classroom.

Collaborative Quizzes in Action


Once the group finishes the demonstration part of the quiz, Ms. Nave inspects their work and assigns a grade based on their construction and appropriate labels. This also makes grading the assessment much easier as she notes, “since there are only 4 or 5 groups in the class, I can grade this easily and write that portion of the grade on their answer sheet (highlighted in yellow so it could not be changed) and then they can finish their quiz.”

In the second example, students again are put into groups of two to five students and given a quiz with multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answers, and a demonstration. Again students break the ice with their newfound groups by creating an inventive team name that is relevant to the topic. The topic for the second quiz includes ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian art so students happily name themselves “Lions, Tigris, Euphrates oh my!,” “Hatshepsut’s Homies,” “Ziggurat Pack,” “The Tuts,” and “Auroch vs. Mushushu.” The figure below shows the format and questions of the second quiz.


Collaborative Quiz Question Template

Figure 3: Collaborative Quiz Question Template


In this second quiz, the demonstration does not require construction blocks but instead asks students to demonstrate their knowledge by drawing a picture that incorporates four different terms. This exercise also requires collaboration among teammates and asks them to apply their understanding of ancient terms to a different (and fun) context. Specifically, Ms. Nave asks:


Using hieratic scale and at least two registers, design/sketch a stele in which you display in visual terms some event from last week and include an inscription using the ancient language of the Near East (fake it-how it looks).
- Lillian Nave


Ms. Nave does not expect students to know how to write or translate cuneiform, but does ask for them to demonstrate that they know that the ancient language is called cuneiform and that they have a general familiarity with its appearance. Below, in the student response to this quiz question, their drawing of a stele (upright thin stone monument) shows a recently televised debate between a creationist and an evolutionist, giving hieratic (larger size) importance to Bill Nye, complete with registers (separate and distinct horizontal spaces for figures stacked one on top of each other, much like a cartoon strip) and cuneiform inscription.

Student Answer Sheet with depiction of a Stele

Figure 4: Student Answer Sheet with depiction of a Stele


Other students responded to the quiz question by dividing the words into separate pictures. The figure below shows one example of the use of registers on a vase (one of the works seen in the chapter) in the upper left corner. The upper right corner demonstrates the group’s knowledge of a stele by showing a specific example of the “Stele of Naram-Sin” from the reading. Finally, a large stele at the bottom of the page shows Chancellor Peacock of Appalachian State University in hieratic scale (he is much bigger than the other figures signifying his greater importance) telling students that classes are cancelled due to snow, complete with cuneiform inscription.

Student Answer Sheet with depiction of a Stele

Figure 5: Student Answer Sheet with depiction of a Stele


In another response to the quiz question, students incorporated all of the vocabulary words into one story in which they prayed to the large horned “god of quizzes” in the upper register and kneeled before their instructor who they call “Queen Nave” in the lower register. They added a cuneiform inscription they translated as “and then they aced the quiz”-which, in fact, they did!


Student Answer Sheet with depiction of a Stele

Figure 6: Student Answer Sheet with depiction of a Stele


Using active collaborative quizzes with manipulatives in any classroom increases opportunities for student learning. Information is reviewed during the assessment and students are better able to grasp the concepts and form a connection to the material through discussion with other students. The use of manipulatives allows students have a variety of ways in which to demonstrate their knowledge and also learn through the demonstration. Finally, the multi-faceted discussion during the quiz provides students with a deeper understanding of concepts than if they were to have answered the questions individually.

Learn More

Literature Base

Editor’s Note: The Literature Base section of each College STAR module provides a brief summary of support for the instructional practice highlighted within the module. This is not an exhaustive literature review. It is designed to give the viewer an introduction to the literature about the module’s instructional practice. Please consider using the Learn More section of the module to supplement the information you obtain through this Literature Base summary.

According to Rao, Collins, and DiCarlo (2002), group testing enhances student learning during the assessment process. When tasked with an individual quiz and then the same quiz taken again in a group format, performance on the quizzes significantly improved. The cooperative quiz therefore serves not only as an assessment tool, but also as another means of learning for the students.

Collaborative group testing has also been shown to increase the retention of course material over the use of individual quizzes (Cortright, Collins, Rodenbaugh, & DiCarlo, 2003Kreie, Headrick, & Steiner, 2007). When students were tested using small groups of two or three in comparison to those taking individual tests, students who had taken a group test were able to recall more information later on in the semester when they had taken the group test initially. The collaborative effort helps students learn in the midst of the test as well as improve the retention of the material over time.

Slusser and Erickson (2006) found that collaborative assessment strategies improve students’ motivation and performance. Compared to students who took tests individually, those students who group-tested completed more assignments and had improved attitudes toward their own learning and the subject matter. Students also reported having positive attitudes toward the testing process. Additionally, given a control group or individual quiz takers and a group of collaborative quiz takers, the collaborative quiz takers showed higher performance (Delucchi, 2006Meseke, Nafziger, & Meseke, 2008).

Yazici (2010) has also shown that collaborative quizzes and other activities improved students’ understanding of the material, developed their strategic thinking skills and increased students’ self-confidence in their critical thinking skills. In addition, collaborative activities raised students’ comfort level in communicating with their peers and improved their individual learning skills (Yazici, 2010).

References & Resources

CAST. (2009). CAST UDL online modules.

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CAST. (2011d). UDL guidelines version 2.0. principle III. provide multiple means of engagement. Retrieved from

CAST. (n.d.). About CAST: What is universal design for learning. Retrieved from

Cortright, R. N., Collins, H. L., Rodenbaugh, D. W., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2003). Student retention of course content is improved by collaborative-group testing. Advances in Physiology Education, 27(1-4), 102-108.

Delucchi, M. (2006). The efficacy of collaborative learning groups in an undergraduate statistics course. College Teaching, 54(2), 244-248.

EnACT. (n.d.). 14 common elements of UDL in the college classroom. Retrieved from

Evans, C., Williams, J., King, L., & Metcalf, D. (2010). Modeling, guided instruction, and application of UDL in a rural special education teacher preparation program. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 29(4), 41.

Immordino-Yang, M. H., & Damasio, A. (2007). We feel, therefore we learn: The relevance of affective and social neuroscience to education. Mind, Brain, and Education, 1(1), 3-10. doi:10.1111/j.1751-228X.2007.00004.x

Kreie, J., Headrick, R. W., & Steiner, R. (2007). Using team learning to improve student retention.College Teaching, 55(2), 51-56.

Mallenby, D. W., & Mallenby, M. L. (2003). Use of brief collaborative quizzes on new quantitative lecture material. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 1(1), 141-144.

Meseke, C. A., Nafziger, R. E., & Meseke, J. K. (2008). Student course performance and collaborative testing: A prospective follow-on study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 31(8), 611-615.

National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (2011). About UDL. Retrieved from

Rao, S. P., Collins, H. L., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2002). Collaborative testing enhances student learning.Advances in Physiology Education, 26(1-4), 37-41.

Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. Journal of Postsecondary Education & Disability, 19(2)

Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. . Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning,

Rose, D., & Dalton, B. (2009). Learning to read in the digital age. Mind, Brain, and Education, 3(2), 74-83. doi:10.1111/j.1751-228X.2009.01057.x

Slusser, S. R., & Erickson, R. J. (2006). Group quizzes: An extension of the collaborative learning process. Teaching Sociology, 34(3), 249-262.

UDLCAST. (2011). Introduction to UDL. Retrieved from

Additional Resources

APA style: A DOI primer. Retrieved from from

CAST: Center for applied special technology. Retrieved from

CrossRef. (2002). DOI resolver. Retrieved from

International DOI Foundation. (2012). Resolve a doi number. Retrieved from

Mazur, E. (2013). Assessment, The Silent Killer of Learning. Retrieved from

About the Author

Lillian Nave

Lillian Nave

Lillian Nave is a Senior Lecturer in First-Year Seminar and the Universal Design for Learning Coordinator and VITAL Faculty Coordinator for the Center for Academic Excellence at Appalachian State University. Her background is in Art History and she taught at the State University of New York at Oneonta and Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, before coming to North Carolina. She also taught at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute before joining the Art Department at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She moved into her position in First Year Seminar in 2014 and served as a Faculty Fellow before becoming the UDL Coordinator in the Center for Academic Excellence.