Engaging students by checking their understanding often and quickly is a good teaching strategy for helping students retain their understanding to long-term memory. Quizzing students regularly in class can also mean more time grading.
It’s the middle of summer and most of us are exploring the great outdoors: gardening, hiking, kayaking, enjoying summer sports and putting off much needed home projects. But it’s not too early to start thinking about the upcoming Fall semester.
Let’s say you give quizzes in your classroom. You don’t need to worry about setting up access on laptops or mobile devices– or even reliable internet access –in order for your students to take a Blackboard quiz. You can give a paper-based quiz then scan the students’ answers using the ZipGrade app on your mobile device which calculates the results. It might just be the answer to ease your grading routine.
Turns your phone or tablet into a scantron machine
Well, not exactly like the old, clunky scantrons with expensive bubble sheet to collect and transport to the one machine in the department. Instead, ZipGrade is an app that turns your phone (or tablet) into an optical grading machine that you carry in your pocket to your classroom.
Create your quiz questions in a separate document and attach one of the free 20-, 50- or 100-question answer sheets. Students mark their answers on the scantron-like answer sheet.
To grade, simply hold your phone over the answer sheet, ZipGrade will focus and vibrate when it captures the image. You now have an easy-to-access visual record of each student’s answers.
What if all your assessments are essays, worked-out problems or short answers? You can still use ZipGrade to make life easier. You simply create a rubric by defining multiple answers with varying point values using alternative answer keys. For example, if you give a 10-question quiz and question #5 is a problem, short answer or essay, your students would write their answer on their quiz paper and leave question #5 of the bubble sheet blank. When you grade the problem, short answer or essay, you would darken the question #5 bubble that corresponds to the points you wish to award. Now re-scan the student’s answer sheet to tabulate the points awarded for the problem, short answer or essay.
Easily create tests and quizzes
Create assessments on the app by scanning your answer key or by toggling the correct answers on the screen. You can create a quiz or test with up to 100 questions and the active questions can be anywhere on the answer sheet. You can even create assessments with alternate versions and answer keys, multiple correct answers, and partial credit.
You can even add extra credit questions to your assessments. The student’s score will be based on the primary answer key and any additional points will count as extra credit.
No internet? No problem. You can scan, grade and review assessments without an internet connection. Once you’re connected, ZipGrade will sync all your scanned answer sheets with the central secure server so that if something happens to your phone, all your students’ information is safe and recoverable.
View item analysis and reports
You can easily review your students’ scanned and graded answer sheets and even view an item analysis for each question to help you identify weak or confusing questions.
When you’re ready to post your grades to Blackboard or another Learning Management System, you can export your assessment results as a .pdf or .csv file. Your export can include an image of the answer sheet with and without the answers.
No more waiting to grade a mountain of papers only to realize that your students didn’t really grasp an important concept. Students will know immediately whether or not they need to spend more time working on a given topic by showing them results on your mobile device. Students like that they can take a quiz, walk to the front of the classroom where I scan their answer sheet and show them their score right then and there. You can also export the results and return to students by email, Google Drive or Dropbox.
I use ZipGrade in all my face-to-face classes to give pop quizzes, check-your-understanding quizzes and end-of-chapter quizzes. My students love getting the immediate feedback and I love the ease of grading.
ZipGrade is free to download and includes 100 scans per month. If you find you need more, ZipGrade is reasonably priced at $6.99 per year for unlimited scans. The bubble answer sheets are free to print from the website and print with 20, 50 or 100 questions.
ZipGrade makes your life easier by reducing the amount of time you’ll spend grading and letting you focus instead on what you love to do: teach.
 Health, C. & Heath, D. (2007) Made to stick. New York, New York: Random House.