Using Cooperative Quizzes

Featured Instructors:

Tania Leal, Ph.D., University of Iowa alumna


Cooperative quizzes allow students to use assessment as a learning tool.


  • Encourages student preparation and confidence
  • Encourages student participation
  • Improves student understanding
  • Encourages knowledge retention


Tania Leal uses cooperative quizzes to turn assessment into a learning tool that improves understanding, retention, and motivation. Cooperative Quizzes (also called group quizzes, collaborative quizzes, pyramid exams, or two-stage exams) are assigned to groups after students have completed an individual quiz. Groups are responsible for coming to consensus on each answer, which will require them to discuss and debate course material. Students’ grades are calculated by weighting both the individual and the group assessment. Leal has found that this strategy encourages thoughtful discussion and more sophisticated understanding of major course themes by engaging students at that key moment when student receptiveness for understanding is at its peak.


Cooperative Quizzes: Details & Examples

Studies have shown that collaborative quizzes can: 

  • help with anxiety, improve self-confidence, and discourage cheating; 
  • improve student motivation and class preparation;
  • help with buy-in for other group learning activities in the curriculum;
  • promote reflective thinking and retention;
  • improve scores slightly for all students, not just those who perform poorly on individual quizzes; and
  • improve mutual trust among students in a course, which contributes to the learning atmosphere and encourages students to attend and participate. 

Cooperative Quizzes: Best Practices

Experts recommend collaborative quizzes for courses that already include some level of group work.

Practitioners have successfully used collaborative quizzes in both small classes and large lectures classes.

Groups of 3-4 generally work best because small groups help to ensure that every student’s voice is heard.

Students grouped to encourage diversity tend to yield the best results, which may require instructors to assign groups.

Students may benefit from staying in the same groups for several quizzes so they can observe group as well as individual improvement.

Questions may be multiple choice or short answer, but essays are not recommended.

Students may need guidance about how to use thoughtful discussion to come to a unanimous decision so they will not resort to coin flipping or majority-rules voting.  The emphasis is on consensus because one of the goals of the group quiz is to cultivate the ability to make convincing arguments for an answer.  A student with the correct answer must also be able to explain effectively  why they came to that conclusion.

Providing only one answer sheet per group can help ensure that groups come to a consensus.

Student learning will be maximized if correct answers are discussed after completion of the cooperative quizzes. 

In addition to providing students with an explanation of the process and benefits of group quizzes, consider explaining in your syllabus how cooperative quizzes will work. See instructions for writing about cooperative quizzes in your syllabus here

Consider asking students for feedback. See an example of a feedback questionnaire

Cooperative Quizzes: Technology

Cooperative Quizzes require nothing more than pencil and paper, but some instructors have found that using the following tools can enhance the process:

  • Simple paper IF-AT forms allow students to work as individuals or in groups to answer multiple choice questions. 
    • The scratch-off forms provide immediate feedback about whether the answer is correct, and can be used to allow students multiple chances to find the correct answer for partial credit. 
    • Immediate feedback and opportunities to find the correct answer help with learning and retention. 
    • Read more about availability and best practices, watch a demo, or request sample forms at the IF-AT webpage
  • ICON allows instructors to give individual assessments via the quiz feature and provides group discussion boards or a wiki site for group communication.

Cooperative Quizzes: Bibliography & Related Content


Ives, J. (2011) Two-Stage Group Quizzes Part 0: Poster Presentation from FFPERPS 2011. Science Learnification Blog. Retrieved from

The University of British Columbia Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. (2016) Two-Stage Exams. The University of British Columbia. Retrieved from

Related Content

Assessment -- Get advice on designing assessments to maximize learning value and fairness and additional information on collaborative quizzes.

Designing and Facilitating Group Work -- Explore the pedagogical benefits of collaborative learning and get advice on setting up groups, designing effective assignments, grading, promoting student buy-in for group work, and more. 

Technology Integration in the Classroom -- Explore how to use clickers (student response systems) for quizzes, attendance, checks of understanding, and more. 

Cooperative Quizzes in the Literature -- A bibliography of articles on group quizzes from the UI Center for Teaching.

Obermann Center for Advanced Studies
​The University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies encourages innovation, cross-disciplinary and collaborative scholarship and teaching, and engagement with local and global communities.