NMK - Academic Coaching and Communication - Quizzes, Exams, and Assessments Do Motivate Students!

Quizzes, Exams, and Assessments Do Motivate Students!

As discussed in our previous blog post, everyone does recognize the importance of learning and education. Yet, very few are those who are motivated enough to study and attend school or college. While goal-setting can be key to enthuse students, assessments, too, can really motivate them!

Assessments are not that bad after all. According to Usher & Kober (2012), exams are essential to evaluate whether students are learning the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn. But since many undergrads are mostly demotivated at schools and universities, instructors can benefit from assessments and align them with goal-setting theory to motivate learners.

But that definitely depends on the type of assessment and purpose. Hence, not every exam can be linked with the above-mentioned theory.

So how can teachers develop assessments that inspire students and encourage them to wholeheartedly put more effort in what they are doing?

1. Create tests that reward effort, creative strategy, and gains in knowledge or mastery.

These kinds of assessments promote a growth goal mindset. The reason is that teens will feel appreciated for making their best or putting effort in what they did. They will thusly understand that they can only build goals and achieve abilities through determination, purpose, and effort. On the other hand, exams that require students to attain a certain achievement benchmark reminds youngsters that they are only valued because they passed the exam or are intelligent enough.

2. Build assessments based on short-term, easily achievable goals and then gradually increase in difficulty.

Typical examinations can build the distinct dimension of the Motivational Theory mentioned in one of our blog post published earlier. To elaborate, tests that gradually increase in difficulty boost students’ competence and confidence as well as give them a sense of control. Upon succeeding one assessment after the other, they will comprehend that effort and achievement are always linked. Therefore, they will see, determine, and follow a clear path to goal fulfillment

3. Allow students to be part of the ‘assessment development’ process.

In other words, let the learners understand what they will be tested on ahead of time. That way, they will have an accurate idea of what is expected from them. Do not give them the questions, obviously! Instead, you can simply involve them in a “discussion about the assessment and its purpose”.

4. Give them a chance to master concepts in pursuit of a non-formal goal first, then resort to graded assessments.

In fact, Usher & Kober (2012) reported that many studies proved that students who “were asked to master new material with an end goal of a quiz or test ended up retaining less of the material than did students who were given the material and told to master it so that they could answer some general questions or explain it to others.” This approach has other advantages too. For example, when teachers give students the chance to demonstrate their knowledge for ‘non-grading’ purposes, the levels of confidence and competency increased during the preparation process for future graded exams.

5. Come up with some low-stakes assessments.

Low-stakes tests are those that “allow students a chance to fail without dire consequences.” Doing less of these examinations reliefs the students as they usually perceive typical evaluations as a judgement of their competence and potential. Thusly, assessing them from time to time with no-to-little judgement can motivate and support children and young adults’ learning.

As we’ve said before, assessments are not that bad after all. They are neither motivating nor demotivating. It is rather the type of assessment and the way it is presented that actually make the difference!


Usher, A., & Kober N. (2012). Can Goals Motivate Students? Center on Education Policy. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED532668

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NMK - Academic Coaching and Communication

NMK - Academic Coaching and Communication - Quizzes, Exams, and Assessments Do Motivate Students!