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A usability comparison of PDA-based quizzes and paper-and-pencil quizzes

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Computers & Education Volume 45, Number 4, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


In the last few years, schools and universities have incorporated personal digital assistants (PDAs) into their teaching curricula in an attempt to enhance students’ learning experience and reduce instructors’ workload. One of the most common uses of PDAs in the classroom is as a test administrator. This study compared the usability effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of a PDA-based quiz application to that of standard paper-and-pencil quizzes in a university course. Effectiveness was measured as students’ quiz scores and through a mental workload questionnaire; efficiency was the time it took students to complete each quiz; and satisfaction was evaluated using a subjective user satisfaction questionnaire. The study showed the PDA-based quiz to be more efficient, that is, students completed it in less time than they needed to complete the paper-and-pencil quiz. No differences in effectiveness and satisfaction were found between the two quiz types. Computer anxiety was not affected by the quiz type. For these reasons, as well as other advantages to both students (e.g., real-time scoring) and teachers (e.g., less time spent on grading), PDAs are an attractive test administration option for schools and universities.


Segall, N., Doolen, T.L. & Porter, J.D. (2005). A usability comparison of PDA-based quizzes and paper-and-pencil quizzes. Computers & Education, 45(4), 417-432. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved December 9, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 30, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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