In Ontario there has been a move away from the standard terms of ‘formative’ and ‘summative’ assessment to:

  • Assessment as learning
  • Assessment for learning (Formative)
  • Assessment of learning (Summative)

Assessment as learning got me thinking. To work with the notion of students learning as they assess themselves, I looked for a website that offered online quizzes. My school use BlackBoard as the LMS or VLE, but I wanted something more sophisticated and less cumbersome. A quick online search finds the following, and more (these all claim to be free): ,


Hot potatoes (


I came across the website sometime ago and have been using it for several years.


It is not free ($49 per subscriber) but the flexibility it provides is excellent and I highly recommend you go ‘cap in hand’ to whoever holds the ‘purse strings’ to subscribe.

Some features of Quia:

  • Once registered, students success can be efficiently tracked
  • Quizzes can be created with a plethora of question types from multiple choice to true false to matching to pop up etc.
  • Class analysis can be carried out and success from within a class on specific questions observed.
  • Individual analysis of a students correct and incorrect responses can be seen
  • You can create  fun activities that help teach a syllabus point such as matching characteristics of the five vertebrate groups.
  • There is a community of teacher users that share assessments and activities, so you can download a variety of different assessments and modify as you wish.

I register all students within the grade in the new DP1 year. I have uploaded questions on a large number of Biology multiple choice questions across all syllabus points.

As we work through a unit students are asked to complete a quiz on a given sub-topic such as cell membranes or magnification. The quiz is set so that students have to log in and they have a fixed number of attempts within an allocated time period (for some authenticity). They get to see the correct answers as they progress. The student scores are then shared amongst the Biology team of teachers and we give feedback. Its made clear to the students that the score is not as important as them actually doing the quiz, and we encourage the students to test their understanding and not simply focus on the score). If a student scores poorly we are then able to sit with and support their further learning.

We also randomise the whole question bank for students as they approach their final exam so they can practice multiple choice questions and support their review.

Try it out.