Thursday, November 6, 2014

Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part One: Introduction

This article will be the first in a series related to using the Moodle Quiz Tool.


The Moodle quiz engine is a powerful and flexible tool for assessing certain types of outcomes in a course. Using this tool effectively can boost the effectiveness of your teaching practices and promote student performance.

In this article you will learn about computer-scored quizzes and how to incorporate good strategies into their design and use.

Quiz Strategies

Using the Moodle quiz engine effectively takes some work and practice. The first step is to use question design strategies in order to ask good questions that will result in an assessment of your students' understanding of the material. Below are a couple of tips:
  • Tie each question to a course objective or learning goal.
  • Try to ask multiple questions about each important idea in the material. This will give you more data points about student understanding.
  • When writing a multiple-choice question, be sure each wrong answer represents a common misconception. This will help you diagnose student thinking and eliminate easy guessing.
  • Write questions that require your students to think at different levels. Include some recall questions, some comprehension questions and some application and analysis questions. This will help you to determine where students are having difficulty with the material, for example can they recall the material, but not apply it?
  • Test your questions. As you develop your question bank and incorporate questions into exams, use the system reports to determine which questions are useful and which aren't.
  • Once you have a few well-written test banks, be sure to use the quiz reports and statistics to monitor your students' performance. The detailed reports and statistics available to you are valuable tools for assessing student comprehension of the material. (Watch for more on this in a future blog.)

Creative Quiz Uses

The Moodle quiz engine makes it easier to utilize educationally sound assessment strategies that may have been more difficult to implement with paper and pencil. Instead of thinking of tests as a high-stakes activity - like a midterm or final, a better strategy is to incorporate frequent, low-stakes assessments so that your students are guided through the material throughout the semester. Creating a series of smaller quizzes gives you a flexible system for gauging performance and keeping students engaged in the class. Below are a few ideas for quick quizzes that you can use as part of a larger assessment strategy.

Chapter Checks

  • As instructors, we know that reading the assigned materials is critical to the understanding of the course content and crucial to success in class, but getting students motivated to complete the reading can be a challenge. Creating a short test for each reading assignment encourages students to do the reading so that they can score well on the quiz, but it also gives students feedback on how well they understood the material. The instructor is provided with information about what aspects of the reading that students found confusing so that you can focus your class lectures on those topics.
  • For a reading mini-test, set the time restrictions and only allow students to take the quiz once. Because it is a low-stakes activity and you want students to use it for self-assessment, enable the settings to display the feedback and correct answers  once the quiz is closed. If you are concerned about students sharing answers after they have taken the quiz, randomize the question and answer order. If you have a test bank with extra questions, make some of the questions random as well. 
  • As an additional assignment, you could have your students view their test attempt and write down one question they have about a quiz question they missed.

Test Practice

  • Many students have anxiety about taking tests - especially high-stakes tests. This is often caused by not knowing what to expect on the test. You can help alleviate some test anxiety by creating a practice test that students can take in order to get used to the format of the test, the types of questions that might be asked, and how detailed the questions will be. These tests are usually based on old questions similar to the current test questions such as last year's final exam.
  • To set up a practice exam, create a zero point test with questions from the year before in random order with random answers. Allow students to take the test as many times as they would like so that they can test themselves as much as they need. Enable the settings to display feedback but not correct answers so that it presents more of a challenge. In the question feedback, give the students an indication of where they might find the correct answer (page number of book, lecture, etc.)

Data-Gathering Quiz

  • A data-gathering quiz is similar to a chapter check, but it takes place after a class meeting or lecture. Your goal is to quickly obtain some feedback on your students' understanding of the material that you presented. This will help you to gauge what concepts your students found difficult and what they may have found so easy that they were bored in class.
  • Set up the quiz to open for a limited time, such as opening an hour after class meets and closing an hour before the next scheduled class meeting. Allow students to take the quiz once and display feedback and correct answers after the quiz closes.
Coming next: Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part Two: Quiz security and cheating

This information is from the document: Effective Quiz Practices which can be found at:

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