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Author: Eugene Matthews, Ph.D., Park University
ZipGrade is the first tool to increase student engagement and success.
A cost-effective, yet effective app
ZipGrade is one the two mobile apps I use to reduce my grading time at least 90%, assess my teaching and student knowledge, reduce anxiety, and improve student success. Here’s how it works for me.
ZipGrade, as the name suggests, is a simple mobile application that’s inexpensive (approx. ZipGrade costs $15.00 per year and lives in the cloud. It works through my smartphone. It uses Creative Commons downloadable Scantron style question sheets (20, 50 and 100), which I add into my quizzes. After creating my quiz or exam I generate an answer sheet, assigning a point value to each one.
My students complete the Scantron answer sheets using pen, paper, marker, and other tools. I instantly grade the exam using my smartphone. It shows me the correct answers and gives me their “raw” score. I will verify the answers with the answer sheet and add it to the grade book. Students are aware of this.

ZipGrade Test-Taking Example
ZipGrade updates its analytics as each quiz or exam scans. This allows me to see which questions were correctly answered or incorrectly. These analytics give me information about the exam’s question structure and answer options, as well as insight into what I taught and what my students retained. I can adapt my teaching style as necessary. For example, I might emphasize application through examples rather than terms and terminologies.
My student has the added benefit of knowing their current standing and understanding how their grade can increase. Students with 70% or more know they passed. Students with 90% or more know they got an “A”. Some students feel that knowing their grades immediately and not waiting until the next class period to see the results has helped them relax and be able to focus on other classes.

Plickers is Tool 2 for Increasing Student Engagement & Success
An app to verify student learning
Plickers is the second application I use (with a twist). This simple QR Code-like app rivals many of today’s more expensive clicker devices. It can also be used in the same way as expensive devices. Plickers are used to validate student learning and verify understanding through peer-to–peer engagement. I also add a micro-lecture whenever necessary. Here’s how I make it work:
The Plickers cards are easily printed on any printer. They can be handed to students at their first class or at the end of the semester. Each card comes with a unique QR code that allows students to easily replace or lose their card.
Check Understanding at the Middle–or Beginning–of Class
To verify that students have understood a reading assignment, I may ask a series of questions to begin the class. Students then answer these questions using Plickers. If I want to verify student understanding, I often engage in a series questions in the middle or last part of class. In both cases, I have the chance to use the peer instruction technique popularized by Dr. Eric Mazur (1997).

After I present the question, I will allow students to think about their answer for around 30 seconds. Then, I will collect their responses via Plickers. If less than 40% of the class correctly answers, I will give a micro-lecture, ask the question, and then re-poll. If between 40% and 70% of the class correctly answers, I ask them to turn to a classmate to explain why they believe their answer.
After approximately 2 minutes of discussion, the class is re-poll using Plickers. I then answer any questions. If more than 70% of the class get the correct answer, I respond to any questions before moving on. The question you missed will often reappear in a quiz, or exam.
The power of peer-to-peer learning
What I have found consistently supports Mazur’s findings. It also shows that students who get the right answer are sometimes able to explain it in a way that is easier for others to understand. GRASP can be slow but very effective.
Hear more from Dr. Matthews. You can watch his presentation Teaching with Technology 2.0: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) at your convenience on the Empowered Educator Virtual Event website.

By Delilah