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Quiz Based Learning

G. Balasubramanian is a doyen of school education in India. He has held several positions of leadership at CBSE, including Director Academics. He was the brain behind the introduction of several innovations at CBSE, which included frontline curriculum, communicative approach to language teaching, Information Technology, alternatives to homework, etc. He is also an author, poet and a sought-after speaker at educational conferences world over. This article has been taken from G. Balasubramanian’s of­ficial website


The classroom was indeed noisy as I entered. I heard many voices. “Hey, only sports questions; no, it will be science only; not at all, today we will have current affairs.” Someone else was whispering ‘we also need to do some literature yar.”

The students were on their feet as I walked in. “Sir, Quiz!” was the chorus. “Listen, I have to finish the chemistry portion.” “Sir, don’t worry, we will study chemistry ourselves.”

My memory dates back to the early seventies when I was a teacher in one of the schools at Chennai. Some of those curious students are today leading economists, professors, judges, etc. A few others are shining in their life. Quiz, I had always felt, is an exercise in knowledge mining. It not only helps recall information, but also helps you to structure knowledge, position knowledge and learn. Quizzing is an excellent pedagogical tool that attracts learners. The ten impacts of quiz in a classroom are:

It triggers your curiosity

The questions articulated through a quiz have a unique way of triggering the curiosity of learners. The same questions in a normal, structured classroom could be an input of stress to the learners. With the magical touch of a quiz, the brain feels challenged and is curious to find the answers. Even when one is not very sure of the answer, they jump to give a reply, because in a quiz, it doesn’t hurt their ego in case they are wrong. They feel even attempting to answer a question in the quiz is a reward by itself. The quiz questions often promote higher order thinking skills apart from critical thinking and creative thinking.

It motivates you to participate

In a normal learning environment, the levels of motivation are at times low. But in a quiz, the learners jump from their seat to formulate an answer. They attempt to recall what little they had known earlier, what little they had heard somewhere, what little they could do to show that they have a level playing ground with others. It is indeed very difficult to keep the motivational level of the audience under control in the quiz universe. Even students who do not have a very high level of cognitive reach or who believe quiz is not their cup of tea, tend to push themselves to be active participants in the learning domain. The hunger for learning becomes viral.

It synergizes formal learning with informal learning

Quiz is an excellent tool for synergizing formal learning with informal learning. In a formal learning structure, learning is hierarchical. It is largely top-down, purpose driven, its achievement levels are measured and compared, and it is not always spontaneous. Quiz, on the other hand is open, non-structured, facilitates parallel learning, empowers both hierarchical and peer learning, more spontaneous and facilitates acceptance of differentiated aptitudes and learning. There is no priestly approach in promoting knowledge in a quiz environment. The classroom almost becomes an unstructured theatre.

It encourages multiple intelligences

Quiz, has the unique non-curricular, inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approach that triggers all different types of intelligences. From music to literature, sports to spirituality, books to philosophies, films to fashion, it has the capacity to deal with multiple domains of knowledge. It can facilitate integrated thinking, intuitive thinking, reasoning and knowledge mining. It can compel a participant to investigate and logically position information. It can help correlate and compute data and information to give answers to questions – why, how and what? Intelligence, normally, gets revealed by itself without conscious efforts.

It sharpens your intellect

As quizzing engages the brain intensely, it helps to sharpen the intellect without any external inputs or resources. Participants are usually self-driven, they tend to storm their own brains and develop the skills of analysing, selecting, rejecting and making the right choices. This indeed helps them later on in life as a very important life skill. Further, it sharpens the intellect by finding answers to why and why not. Alertness, agility, attention, accuracy are some of the brain faculties nurtured through a quizzing process.

It encourages teamwork

In a large number of cases, quiz is conducted as a team event. This demands the development of the following skills – understanding, accepting differences, appreciating others point of view, allowing fair play, giving others what they are due, patience, responsibility and decision making. It encourages mutual support and facilitates the process of consultation. These skills are largely required in professional environments and hence, quizzing acts as a tool for collaborative learning and cohesion.

It helps you to stay current

One vital aspect of any quizzing environment is current affairs. In a world with an unimaginable speed of irrelevant knowledge, it is important to stay up-to-date in order to be relevant. The value of an individual is enhanced if they are cognizant to happenings from around the world. Quizzing brings the world of information to the learning table and thus empowers the self-confidence and self-esteem of individuals in a learning community.

It expands your knowledge canvas

As a powerful instrument for knowledge mining, it helps to expand the canvas of one’s knowledge, eliminating the barrier of discipline. While it helps to reach out to the horizons of information near and far, it also helps to dive deep into the unfathomed oceans of knowledge to search for pearls of wisdom. In doing this exercise, both the right and left-brain faculties are triggered and the learner is involved in the process of holistic thinking. This is indeed a meaningful way of developing the holistic personality of an individual, who would be able to see the reflection of his or her knowledge in everyday life.

It empowers your response system

In a consumerist, aggressive and fast-processing world, it is important for learners to understand the difference between reacting and responding. In a large number of human relationships, we tend to react to questions than responding. Reactions often result in totally unexpected situations, sometimes destroying the relationships between people or systems. Quizzing, trains people to respond to questions rather than react to them. It needs to be a meaningful response to the situation rather than an emotional reaction.

Quiz, on the other hand, as a tool engaged in cognitive architecture, demands a puritan approach to knowledge processing without being consumed by emotions.

It makes you a life-long learner

Active engagement with Quiz, demands unequivocally, a desire to seek conscious and continuous empowerment of knowledge. This indeed makes one a life-long learner. Once the hunger for knowledge is ignited in the brain, it becomes an ‘ignited mind’ and seeks food for thought from all corners of the world. Thus, apart from being a stand-alone activity, quiz has the power of introducing you to your own future. By empowering one’s knowledge from time to time, it keeps one’s self-esteem high. Quiz, as edutainment for knowledge mining, is a powerful tool for preparing competent, confident and contributive citizens for the country.

Back to my reminiscences, as I found myself lost in thoughts, a chorus gravitated my attention: “Sir, Next Question.” – That is the power of a Quiz!!


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