My course has 12-15 pop quizzes scattered throughout the semester. The quizzes are unannounced (thus, pop). I also have some at the beginning of the class, some at the end, and others in the middle. Most are 10-15 minutes in length.

One of my students has a university-approved accommodation for 50% extra time. I'm struggling with how to implement this accommodation. To be clear -- I'm very much on-board with providing accommodations. I am not trying to dodge the requirement.

I don't feel it would be helpful to single out the student in any way. Therefore, I don't want to collect the quiz papers and then have the student leave the room to get the extra 5 or 6 minutes of time. And, they would have to leave the room, as the distraction of the lecture would make the extra time fairly useless. Further, that student would then also miss the next bit of lecture.

Because the quizzes are random, I don't want to notify the student ahead of time to, for instance, "swing by my office to take the quiz ahead of time" as word will get out about the existence of a quiz that day. Ditto for "show up at class early" for a quiz that starts at the beginning of class.

I suppose that a quiz at the end of class could be handled with the extra time handled immediately after class. But, what do I do about the other quizzes?

Has anyone else faced a similar problem? Any suggestions?

  • 4
    Maybe you've found one of the systemic problems with "pop quizzes". I understand the motivation to have this structure play a role, but maybe there are better ways... Dunno. Feb 11, 2023 at 23:15
  • 4
    Did you contact students with disabilities center? Feb 12, 2023 at 0:32
  • 2
    Tell the student that they only have to do 2/3rd (or whatever closest) of the questions?
    – mkennedy
    Feb 12, 2023 at 3:15
  • 2
    How do the quizzes count for the final mark? Feb 12, 2023 at 12:02
  • 1
    Are these pop quizzes being summatively assessed, or only formatively assessed? Feb 12, 2023 at 21:20

4 Answers 4


As other answers have said, consult with your disability office regarding regulations. I am writing separately to note that I do not agree with the sentiment that it is likely to be okay to allow the student to do only a fraction of the questions, or to grade only their best questions. My suspicion is that you will not be able to make true pop quizzes work and that, while you can make frequent quizzes work, you will need to change your course infrastructure around them.

For example, here are the policies at my department, which I believe are very similar to the policies throughout the University of Michigan. Here is the key part:

Quizzes. The logistics for providing testing accommodation on an in-class quiz can be challenging. Please work with the student to find a reasonable accommodation. Here are some examples of approaches that have worked in the past. In all of these examples, suppose your class has exactly one student who requires testing accommodations, and that that student’s VISA [Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations] form indicates that the student is to be given time-and-a-half on all timed assessments.

  1. Design a twenty-minute quiz that will be given first thing in class. Have the extended-time student work on the quiz for ten minutes prior to class in your office and then complete the quiz with the rest of the class.

  2. Design a twenty-minute quiz that will be given last thing in class. Have the extended-time student take the quiz in class and then work on the quiz for ten minutes in your office after class is over.

  3. Have the extended-time student complete the entire quiz in office hours and work quietly on something else during the in-class quiz.

  4. Have the extended-time student take the quiz in the TAC [Testing Accommodations Center]. Time things so the student will arrive at class just as the other students complete their quizzes.

Here are some examples of what is not acceptable (i.e., if you do any of them, you will likely be engaging in discrimination that violates federal law). In all of these examples, suppose your class has exactly one student who requires testing accommodations, and that that student’s VISA form indicates that the student is to be given time-and-a-half on all timed assessments.

  1. Design a twenty-minute quiz, and then give everyone in the class thirty minutes to complete it.

  2. Design a quiz with 6 questions, but ask the time-and-a-half student to complete only 4 of the 6 questions.

  3. Design a twenty-minute quiz, give everyone in the class 20 minutes to complete it, and then adjust the final score on the extended-time student’s quiz by a factor of 1.5.

  • 1
    I like the assumption here that faculty offices are convenient or even near the classroom lol. Feb 13, 2023 at 15:43
  • They aren't :). Yeah, examples (1) and (2) don't work for any class room geography I've experienced, and example (4) has the same problem. Feb 13, 2023 at 15:45
  • Personally, in the last 10 years, I've done in class quizzes (1) online at the end of class, where it was easy to arrange for student to stay longer in the zoom call (2) when teaching small classes in small classrooms where I could arrange to stay in the room an extra 5 minutes. I did them more often before that, but there were many fewer extended time students then. Feb 13, 2023 at 15:47
  • That said, I haven't taught first year calculus in that time, and I think our first year calc courses do still give quizzes. If I get a chance, I'll ask how they do it. Feb 13, 2023 at 15:49
  • 1
    I have a couple of students who require accommodations (but do not yet have them for various reasons). I take the second approach. They start it with everyone else and finish in my office. My quizzes are designed to be doable in the allotted class time so that even students with accommodations should finish (they're generally ~15 minute quizzes, but I give students 20ish minutes on them), but I gladly give more after class in my office if they haven't finished. Feb 15, 2023 at 15:11

I give pop quizzes. They are just as you've described.
To resolve the logistics nightmare, perhaps, one takes a step back.
What is the purpose of pop quizzes, and what do they mean to you?

  • attendance
  • continuous assessment
  • knowledge ringfencing.

In my case, from a pedagogy viewpoint, they, PQ, are part of the course scaffolding.
Thus, they are formative assessments, yet they go further.
The implication of this are:

  1. PQ assists the students in reinforcing learning during the class discourse or refreshing or 'rejuggling' knowledge from the previous class session.
  2. PQ are feedback snapshots (to me as the lecturer) of what the students get or are getting from the class.
  3. PQ are sometimes 'just-for-fun' and, in those instances, merely count for 'attendance'.

For me, typically students get marks for the best half or 2/3 of their PQ for the term/semester. Invariably, I take the best half or 2/3, counting for marks towards their final assessment. This is clearly written in their study guide. It is also discussed during our 'contract' class: typically, the first class of the term/semester where we go over the study guide.

If the disability is adamant that you must allocate extra time for the student?

  • factually write down the logistic 'nightmare' as you've articulated here;
  • also, document for the disability unit, your 'best of half or 2/3' marks of PQ
  • allow the student to only attempt half or 2/3 of the PQ questions, except when the PQ is only one Q!

These should fly with the disability unit and with the said student as well. However, there are no guarantees as some might rigidly follow the 'text' and not the rationale.

While at it, keep track of the trend. Do your learning analytics. The patterns might come in handy later, or just contribute to your reflective teaching.

  • 2
    I doubt this idea will "fly" with disabilities office, but it would be worth asking. Feb 12, 2023 at 19:50
  • @Buffy Thanks. I've edited it. Essentially, 'pen' connotes 'write'. The emphasis is ensuring whatever was experienced, reflected on, or put to practice, what is golden is ensuring it is put down in writing. However, writing down and handing off (putting one's hand in the air) is not the #attitude I advocate. It should be for further purposeful engagement. Feb 13, 2023 at 12:48
  • @semmyk-research That's not ordinary English usage of 'pen' from an AmE standpoint; BrE I also doubt. Of course, language isn't fixed and there's no "right" and "wrong" way, but generally it's better to choose words that will make sense to most of your readers.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 13, 2023 at 15:03
  • @BryanKrause. Thanks. Seems so. We learn every day. We circumspectly navigate AmE and BrE. Fortunately, we didn't get stuck; so much so that we were unable to get ourselves out of the situation. The discourse might continue at | Hopefully, quora might: Feb 13, 2023 at 21:40

There is a lot here that is unknown, so this is a bit speculative, even orthogonal. Perhaps some of the ideas can help.

  • If this arises only seldom, consider not using pop quizzes at all for the term. The problem goes away and you also get the chance to analyze whether your normal practice has value.

  • Consider giving the quizzes as normal with no time adjustments, but not including them in the grading. Give feedback on the answers to each student to help guide them in the proper direction. You can give "exceptional" students "exceptional feedback", where "exceptional" can be interpreted broadly, not just for disability.

  • Have a three way conversation with yourself, the student, and the disability office to get everyone's input. It might be important to the student not to be obviously singled out to their peers, or not. This helps you avoid making assumptions that might not be valid.

  • If you need quizzes at all, move them to the end of the class (but see the note above). This lets you adjust the time as stated in the policy with minimal disruption. It does, however, assume that you and the student are available for a few extra minutes.

  • Orthogonally, instead of pop quizzes, work with the students to take better notes. In particular, they can use note cards during the lecture to try to capture the, say, three most important ideas in the class. Spend a few minutes at the end of each class asking for student comments (from the note cards) on what those important ideas are. Those same note cards can be used at the start of the next class rather than the end of the current one in the same way and form a basis for later study by the student.

  • In the case that pop quizzes are used as a goad to get them to do homework and study regularly, collect note cards at the start of each class about their experience since the previous class. What they learned from study, what issues they have. This takes time out of the equation. One particular item might be "What is the most important question you have at this moment about the course material?". Note that I haven't used this myself and would need to think about it more to refine it. But those note cards are then the "ticket to play" for the student. You can use them to guide the lecture, after scanning a few, and also to give individual feedback.


The other answer here by semmyk-research gives a good articulation of some pedagogical advantages to pop quizzes, so I can see why you might want to continue these. Here are two things you should do:

  • Rather than trying to alter the logistics of the pop quiz, you could try to find an "academically equivalent" accommodation that does not involve extra time. For example, you might proceed with a system where the student is only required to do 2/3 of the questions (you would need to give an instruction prior to the pop quiz as to which questions apply). Alternatively, you might proceed as normal with the pop quiz but give some other marking accommodation to the student (e.g., quizzes are redeemable against some other work). Remember that you could also speak to the student to see if they have any ideas or preference about how to proceed. There are many options you could consider that would not involve giving extra time but would involve some "equivalent" accommodation.

  • Regardless of what you come up with, go and talk to the Disability Unit at your university that gave this accommodation and ask them to assist with a variation of their present accommodation that meets the logistical requirements of your pop quizzes. Their job is to assist students with diability accommodations but also to fit within the structure and logistics of the courses determined by the lecturer, so feel free to put the onus on them to find a solution within the constraints of your preferred assessment structure. The Diability Unit will look at the course accommodations holistically, so if there is no sensible accommodation in the pop quizzes, that does not necessarily matter and could potentially be dealt with using some other accommodation.

Whatever solution you come up with, it would be best for this method to be formalised into the disability accommodation granted to the student, which means it will need a variation that specifies the accommodation (or lack thereof) for the pop quizzes.

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