Monday, December 1, 2014

Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part Three: Tips for Creating Questions

This is the 3rd article in a series related to using the Moodle Quiz Tool.

Tips for Creating Effective Quiz Questions

Assessments are critical to teaching because they allow instructors to evaluate if students have met the course objectives, and to identify areas in the course where improvements need to be made. The Moodle quiz activity is an essential tool for assessment. This article lists tips for writing effective quiz questions.

General Suggestions

  • Follow the three-step process for creating quizzes: First, create or upload from a textbook quiz bank all of the questions to the question bank. Second, add the quiz activity to your course with the settings for timing, feedback, randomization of answers, etc. Last, add the questions from the question bank into the quiz you just created. Creating the quizzes in this manner will make it easier to reuse questions in the future.
  • Make sure your questions align with the level of Bloom's taxonomy set in your course objectives. This will help avoid making questions that are too hard or too easy.
  • Organize your questions in the question bank into meaningful categories. You might group them by chapter, topic, or learning objective depending on the types of quizzes you give.
  • Naming questions: Be consistent with your question names so that it will be easier to locate questions later. The question bank organizes questions first by type and then alphabetically. Only you see the question name so be descriptive enough that you can tell what the question is about without having to preview it.
  • Shuffle the order that answers appear (this is the Moodle default setting). You may have a tendency to place correct answers in the same position, but you can allow Moodle to automatically reorder these for you. You can also enable this in the question behavior setting for the quiz in the "shuffle within questions" setting.
  • Moodle allows you to add images into both questions and answers. The trick is to first save the image to your computer and then upload it into your question and/or answer with the text editor tool.
  • Weight your questions in the Quiz. You don't need to match the total points to the maximum grade of the Quiz - you can let Moodle scale it for you. For example, multiple-choice questions might be weighted as one point, and the weight for matching questions would equal the number of matching items (i.e. 5 items to match, a weight of 5 for the question).
  • Avoid tricky questions. You don't want to confuse your students. If students are consistently missing a question, then evaluate it and find out why.

Feedback Tips

  • General feedback: If you are going to use a question for a low-stakes test you might want to provide information on where a student would find the correct answer. When the student reviews the quiz, they will be given this information or if you turn on the option for deferred feedback in the quiz settings, this information will available during the quiz.
  • Feedback for incorrect responses: If you are entering feedback for incorrect responses, provide specific reasons for why an answer is incorrect.

Matching Questions

  • Avoid having too many items to match in one question. This can be overwhelming for students when presented with too many items at once in the drop-down answer menu. It can also cause unnecessary scrolling, which can affect usability. A general guideline would be about 4 to 6 matching items per question.
  • Avoid having long answers within matching questions because that is what is placed into the drop-down answer choice menu. This can make it hard for students to read when trying to match the terms. In Moodle, the correct answer and distracters should go into the Answer area and the matching item should go into the Question area. You might consider reversing the two for readability. For example, if you want students to match terms to their definitions, then it would be best to write the definitions in the Question area and the terms in the Answer area.

Multiple-Choice Questions

  •  For multiple-choice questions with multiple correct answers, make sure that you give distracters negative point values so that students are penalized when selecting an incorrect response. If you do not, then students could select all answers and receive full credit even though they selected an incorrect response.
  • You can use the multiple-choice question type for fill-in-the-blank questions, but with choices instead of requiring the entry of a short answer (which creates problems for automatic grading). If you decide to create a fill-in-the-blank question, always use a standard number of underscores to indicate the blank so that the length of the line does not give any indication of how long the answer should be. You can also use two fill-in-the-blanks in a sentence, but avoid using a blank at the beginning of the sentence. Instead, have the question stem appear first.
  • Avoid using the option "All of the above" when using randomization. 
  • Make the length of distracters similar to that of the correct answer. The correct answer is typically longer.
  • Avoid creating question distracters that are obviously incorrect. Well-written distracters should be plausible - this is one of the most challenging parts of question writing.

True/False Questions

  • Avoid using the words "only", "never", and "always" within questions - especially True/False statements.
  • Avoid using too many True/False questions. Make sure that you are assessing the intended level of learning.

Essay Questions

  • Remember that essay questions require manual grading. If the answer will require more than a few sentences, you may want to evaluate the question in an Assignment instead using the Online text submission type.
Coming next: Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part Four: Reports

This information is from the resources blog: Best Practices: 30 Tips for Creating Quiz Questions which can be viewed at:

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