Sunday, October 30, 2005

Quizilla in the Classroom

After seeing the Quizilla quiz "What Kind of Postmodernist Are You?" on Dr. B's Blog and then taking it, I got to thinking about using Quizilla with my literature class.

In short, I thought about an assignment in which students, individually or in groups (I think groups might work better), were asked to analyze characters or sets of texts by creating quizzes like "What Early in Orcadia Character Are You?" or "What Edna St. Vincent Millay Poem Are You?" or "What Kind of Byron Poem Are You?" Or, for the purposes of my class since we're using Rob Pope's The English Studies Book, "What Kind of Theoretical Position and Practical Approach Are You?" or "What Kind of Common Topic Are You?"

Obviously, the students would have to select a set number of options, be it five or six characters from Early in Orcadia, five or six Millay poems, or five or six types of Byron poems, etc., and then define that set in ways which would let them write a series of questions to create the quiz. I'd suggest that a good quiz would go beyond the literal text. For instance, a question such as "You spend lots of time thinking about how to reach the shiny places across the sea?" (Hands in Early in Orcadia) or "You long for your half-sister lover?" (Byron's poems), but ought instead to be more creative. Hands, for instance, could have been the headman of his village but wasn't interested in the responsibilities, such as resolving disputes, nor did he really desire the benefits, such as being the first to eat cooked meat. So, one question for the Early in Orcadia quiz might be based on activities each of the characters don't like to do and equate those activities to modern professions. The question itself might be "What profession would you least want to enter?" and the answer that would score for Hands might be "Legal."

I could see this sort of activity working in a number of courses, rhetorical and literary theory, obviously, but even for composition courses. Writing a good quiz would in itself require a number of rhetorical issues and could lead to some good discussion, and off the top of my head, I could see it being useful for audience awareness, or to explore the assumptions inherent in various claims.

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