Philosophy Pop Quiz

This post is also on the #Philosophy12 blog

I’m grateful to Dr. Gardner Campbell of Virginia Tech for letting me bring his daily pop-quiz into #Philosophy12 this semester, as it creates a context for learning that highlights behaviours that are congruent with the philosophical mode and constructivist’s approach as well.

The five questions of the quiz aren’t assessments of any specific understanding, but rather inquiries into habits that will lead to a conducive learning environment in the physical classroom. Our open online participants, I would guess, are the types of learners that are engaging in these behaviours (they otherwise wouldn’t likely be participating with us).

Dr. Campbell’s daily check in goes as follows (score yourself with the numbers supplied):

  1. Did you read material for today’s class meeting carefully? (No – 0, Once – 1, Yes, more than once – 2)
  2. Did you come to class today with questions or with items you’re eager to discuss? (No – 0, Yes, one – 1, Yes, more than one – 2)
  3. Since we last met, did you talk at length to a classmate, or classmates about either the last class meeting or today’s meeting? (No – 0, Yes, one person – 1, Yes, more than one person – 2)
  4. Since our last meeting, did you read any unassigned material related to this course of study? (No – 0, Yes, one item – 1, Yes, more than one item – 2)
  5. Since our last meeting, how much time have you spent reflecting on this course of study and recent class meetings? (None to 29 minutes – 0, 30 minutes to one hour – 1, Over an hour – 2)

Gardner talks about how the quiz is a predictor of how ‘productive’ his classes will be, and in a quick show of hands to reflect today’s scoring, I can see how the class’ honest reflection and response to these questions is potentially a very accurate picture of the engagement at the outset of the day. But more than that, I appreciate what Gardner might call the ‘meta-message’ contained in the brief assessment, and what GNA Garcia described as, “thinking about how [learners] are thinking about what they think about and when,” and thus creating “habits of mind.”


  1. This type of activity differs from what Lee Shulman refers to as “going meta” in that it indeed focuses on the how and when rather than the what of cognition. I imagine many learners have experience with “reflection” (refraction, as I call it) wherein they are asked to consider their own thinking and to “go deeper.”

    What Gardner, Bryan, and I are proposing is being intentional and persistent in developing habits for thinking. Understanding myself as a thinker in this way allows me to pursue intellectual endeavors with a sense of delight, and nurtured by my love of learning for the sake of learning.

    [Thank you Bryan for your ongoing willingness to thoughtfully consider mine and others’ contributions to your pedagogy and to the real-time learning with your students. G]

  2. Trolling through my archives I came across a node that reminded me of the practice of “cognitive apprenticeship” (which is kinda part of Bandura’s tip), but also comes from my favorite camp of cognitive science: Situativity (also know as situated cognition). There’s a bit on Wikipedia I like this not for the way it’s addressed on Wikipedia using the language of Master vs. Novice; I prefer the terms used by Lave & Wenger (situativists), old timers and newbies. Further, their conception of legitimate peripheral participation (which legitimizes the presence and contributions of the newbies as necessary to the persistence and adaptation of a community of learners) is also dope.

    I’ll stop now.

    Delightfully learning,


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