student engagement

Quiz or Lecture to Engage Learners? Definitely Quiz

If courses aren’t engaging the interest of students will wane. It can be frustrating how to balance this with learning. It seems we need to entertain our learners and solve their problems at the same time! What a task.

But really what students want is a learning experience where they can play with and apply new ideas and skills to better their life – at work or home. To add, they are newbies (the reason they are taking a course) who need us to help them develop and build their knowledge, piece by piece.

So what’s the answer to please and engage our students?


Research shows ‘active’ learning is much more beneficial for students. It helps to increase understanding, retain new pieces of learning and be able to repeat what was learned. Active learning means students are actually doing something.

Whereas, ‘passive’ learning is watching or reading content and rarely applying it. The chances are high they will forget what they learned as they have not experienced it.

Our responsibility, as course creators, is to help our learners get active, dig in and gain what we promised – be it a new piece of knowledge, skill or perception. Otherwise, it might not compute and never become part of their knowledge.


Let’s say we have a customer experience course and we want to model a new method that promises to increase customer satisfaction and motivation to buy. Perfect!

We could easily write and write about it in a PDF. Or, we could talk and talk about it in a video.

Yet on the other hand, we could get students to determine what elements they think should be part of good customer experience. That is, we check in with our learners, quiz their ideas, get them thinking, and when we have their attention, we present the actual lesson.

Don’t you think this would be much more engaging?


STEP 1: For that lesson, I would find or create a video/animation of a business owner who gets more and more frustrated with customers as they constantly object to sales, get easily confused with the sales process, or do not buy anything.

I could also create a short written case study (2 pages max.) with photos or images for visual appeal and to increase the sense of storytelling.

STEP 2: Next, I would test students via a quiz on what they think were the problems in the video or story, and how the business owner’s strategies may be affecting the outcomes.

In the feedback for the quiz or after each question, I would add a short note on what went wrong and then include some new terminology or concepts that I want to teach.

Last, I would branch to a full lesson on strategies for providing a stellar customer experience.


Notice the sequence of the learning, how it engaged the learner, drew on their past experience and taught them when they were attentive and ready.

This is a much better way to teach than the traditional sequence of content consumption followed by an exercise.

When to apply this engaging sequence?

I would select certain lessons that have key or complex concepts that you really want students to get. Students get easily bored or confused if we pre-load the concepts without breaking it down or letting them try it on for size.

By actively engaging them in a lesson about something complex, like customer experience, we are more apt to help them understand on a deeper level.

Start with EXPERIENCE, then FEEDBACK, and finally TEACH.


Review your lessons and determine the heavier concepts that students tend to struggle with, or ones that are pivotal for them to learn to truly achieve in your course.

Convert those lessons so that:

  1. Students ‘experience’ the concept, at some level
  2. You inquire into what they think and already know, and
  3. When you have their attention, teach them the concepts and how to apply them.

Looking for a good quiz plugin for your course?

Try ProgressAlly, a robust quiz tool with ample of features to reward and motivate your learners.

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