Cooperative Learning using “Quiz Quiz Trade”

By Ying Jin

Cooperative learning is becoming very popular among American schools. Simply put, it is an approach to designing and organizing classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences so that students can ask one another for information, evaluate and monitor work and, ultimately learn from each other.

Dr. Spencer Kagan is one of the key advocates of cooperative learning. He proposed his unique model in the mid 1980’s. Since then a lot of classroom activities have been developed based on his idea and “Quiz Quiz Trade” is one of the classic activities. Chinese language and culture teachers can benefit from this activity in the classroom because it allows students to quickly and effectively review what they have learned, while teachers can assess students in the understanding and mastery of the new knowledge.

Step by step technique

From my classroom teaching experience, the following are the detailed steps to design and apply this activity.

1. The teacher prepares a set of cards that at least matches the number of students in your class. I usually prepare a couple additional cards as backup.
2. The teacher comes up with a set of questions and answers. It is a good idea to print out and color-code your questions and answers. On one side of the card, paste the question, on the other side paste the answer. For example:

      Q: The same Chinese character "便"is pronounced differently in "cheap" and in "convenient". How is it pronounced in these two words?
      A: Cheap: 便(pián)宜(yì)
          Convenient: 方(fāng)便(biàn)

3. Give each student a card. Allow students a minute or two to get themselves familiar with the question on the card. Students will then stand up and find a partner to whom they will ask the question.

4. If the partner is able to answer the question, they should praise their partner. This is a great opportunity to teach students common praise sentences and phrases (see the examples below). Remember not to skip the praise statement because it is a great element in building a supportive classroom environment.

Common Praise Sentences
英文 简体字 繁體字 拼音
You did a great job today 今天你做得很棒 今天你做得很棒 Jīntiān nǐ zuò de hěnbàng
You did a good job 你做得非常好 你做得非常好 Nǐ zuò de fēi cháng hǎo
You’re so smart 你真聪明 你真聰明 Nǐ zhēn cōngming
You have good presentation skills 你的表达能力很强 你的表達能力很强 Nǐ de biǎo dá nénglì hěn qiáng
You're terrific 你好厉害 你好厲害 Nǐ hǎo lìhài
I admire you 我佩服你 我佩服你 Wǒ pèifu nǐ
You're awesome 你真了不起 你真了不起 Nǐ zhēn liǎobùqǐ 

5. If the partner is not able to answer the question, they should coach them first and provide the answer to them at the end.

6. Switch roles and it is the other partner’s turn to ask his/her question.

7. After both of them are finished asking and answering the questions, they will switch cards and find a new partner.

8. They will ask the new partner the question from their previous partner. Students are encouraged to remember the answer from the previous round.

The activity keeps going until the teacher ends it. I usually set a time limit of about 10-15 minutes for the students to do this, and challenge them to trade as many different questions as possible. I find it works best when reviewing new content at the end of a class. This activity can really motivate and reinforce the students’ understanding of what they have just learned.


The teacher can ask students to come up with questions and answers instead of having the teacher prepare everything. Before the activity, the teacher should make sure that the questions are appropriate and the answers are correct.

For each round, the teacher can set up the time for students to ask and answer questions, or the teacher can teach them to do "partner pyramid" (伙伴金字塔 huǒbàn jīnzìtǎ) to signify they are done. Each partner puts a hand up to form a "pyramid", as soon as each pair of students is done, the teacher can give a signal to move to the next round.

The teacher can collect the questions and ask the questions to the whole class or individuals at the end of the activity. The main purpose of this is to verify that all the students know the right answers.

I have been using this activity in my high school classroom teaching and my students love it. More importantly, this activity works efficiently and effectively when I need to conduct a review session with my students. This activity is suitable for students from all grades and proficiency levels.

One key component in this activity is modeling. Before the teacher plays it with the students the first time, make sure to model how to do it with the class. It is also very important to model the praise part. After students are familiar with the activity, the teacher’s role will be to provide any necessary help and assistance.

The result of the cooperative learning is - everyone succeeds when the group succeeds.

Ying Jin is the Chinese language teacher at Cupertino High School and Fremont High School in the Fremont Union High School District, California. Ms. Jin has 10 years Chinese language and culture teaching experience in diverse settings which includes middle schools, high schools and colleges in both the U.S. and China. She received her MA degree in instructional technologies from San Francisco State University (1998) and BA degree in Chinese language and literature from Peking University, China (1986).