Assessment in a Pandemic: Charting a Path from High-stakes Exams to Low-stakes Weekly Quizzes

Document Type


Publication Date



Boise State University

Source Publication

The Chemical Educator

Source ISSN



The sudden transformation to distance learning induced by the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for instructors and students alike. This article presents early results of a pandemic-induced transition from high-stakes monthly examinations to low-stakes weekly quizzes in both distance learning and hybrid general college chemistry courses. While studies demonstrating the benefits of frequent low stakes quizzing are prevalent in other disciplines, relatively few reports have appeared in the chemistry education literature. Here, we focus on three key facets of this change in assessment strategy. First, student performance on identical or close variant questions between quizzes and exams in offerings by the same instructor is examined, where our early results are consistent with literature from other disciplines in showing improved performance in the quizzing sections. Second, we examine the effect of introducing voluntary quiz retakes on student performance, with particular emphasis on at-risk students and DFW (D’s, F’s, withdrawal) rates. Finally, we compare the impact of a voluntary retake vs. retake following mandated quiz review for students failing their initial quiz attempt. Overall, our results suggest that replacing or supplementing high-stakes exams with low stakes weekly quizzes is both a benefit to students in general chemistry and considered a benefit by them.


The Chemical Educator, Vol. 27 (2022): 69-76. Publisher link.