Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Richard B. Powers


This study was conducted to determine whether any differences existed between the effectiveness of oral and written quizzes as teaching techniques. In the first of two experiments, 130 students enrolled in two sections of an introductory psychology class and two sections of a psychology of adjustment class served as subjects. The course was taught using Michael's method of instruction, a contingency managed technique. In the first half of the term, one section from each course was taught by written quizzes while the other section was taught by oral quizzes. Following four weeks, teaching assignments were reversed. The dependent variables were scores on a test following one week of lectures, scores on tests following each condition, and attitude and interest ratings at the end of the course. For the two introductory psychology sections, there was no significant difference between oral and written methods. For the psychology of adjustment sections, a significant difference was found favoring the oral method in one of two comparisons. From surveys, it was shown that students were interested in and reported favorable attitudes toward the class in both courses. However, a preference for the oral method was shown only in the introductory psychology course.

In a second experiment, 70 students enrolled in two sections of psychology of adjustment completed the requirements for the study. After each of 14 taped lectures, students were quizzed orally, wrote quiz answers, rated oral quizzes, rated written quizzes, or took no quiz. Inter-rater reliability checks were made by an item-by-item analysis of paired rater's scores of student's performances on quizzes. The raters' reports were judged reliable. Validity was examined by a correlational analysis of quiz ratings and unit test performances. Validity was poor. An analysis of rank sums for difference scores obtained from pre-course and post-course test performances showed no differences between any two of the variables studied. Respectively, ranked sums of scores for each variable from high to low was: oral quiz rating, oral quiz taking, written quiz taking, no quizzes, and written quiz rating. However, the differences were not significant. Students interests in, and attitudes toward, the course in psychology of adjustment were found to be on a par with other classes taken in the same term.

From Experiment I, it was concluded that test performances following oral quizzes were not significantly different from test performances following written quizzes. From Experiment II, rating and taking oral quizzes may result in higher test scores than rating and taking written quizzes, but in the present study the results leading to such a conclusion are only suggestive. Finally, judgments of untrained raters on student quiz performances should be viewed with caution since, in the examination of rater's validity, the raters failed to match quiz performance with test performance.