Monday, February 23, 2015

HippoBytes HB261: All About Focus/Moodle Quizzes

Our Student Information System (SIS) is called Focus, and Focus includes a Learning Management System (LMS) called Moodle, which lets you build online courses or put some of your class online (we call both the SIS and LMS "Focus" at AISB, so students know Moodle as "Focus"). When you put some of your activities and content online but still have a regular class, you've made what is called a blended learning environment.

Start with categories in your
question bank, and then add
questions as appropriate.
In this session we learned the features of Moodle quizzes, a complex and powerful tool that can be used for pre-, post-, formative, and summative assessment. As a general workflow, you should be first creating categories based on your topics of study (such as "Stoichiometry" or "World War I") and possibly assessments (for example, you could have a bank of questions used only for exams). Then, create your questions in the question bank under the appropriate category. After that, create your quiz under the appropriate topic with the settings you want; finally, add random or specifically-chosen questions to populate your quiz.

Question Types for Humanities Teachers

Humanities teachers will probably use the multiple choice, matching, true false, drag and drop into text (like multiple choice, but clicking and dragging answers instead of a radio button), and possibly the short answer or pattern-match types. In all cases, remember that the Question name field is just for the teacher; the students will only see the "Question text" field.

You can use the feedback boxes to give students context and address frequently misunderstandings and mistakes:
Be very careful with pattern-match and short answer questions. They allow you to make questions where students type in their response in full sentences, but the computer will be looking for very specific matches to what you define, so if you put "*Sean*Connery*" as a correct answer then "Sean Conery" will be marked as wrong, and "It was NOT Sean Connery" would be marked as right. See the Useful Links section for a deeper explanation of how this works. In general, pattern-match and short answer questions are appropriate for closed rather than open questions.

Question Types for STEM Teachers

Here, the {m} and {v} will be replaced by a random
number when the student takes the quiz.
In addition to the above, you may want to look at the numerical and calculated question types. The calculated question type will allow you to make one question that generates random values for key numbers by typing variables in {}, so that no two students get exactly the same question.

Creating Questions Based on Passages or Diagrams

Teachers of all subjects may want to include reading passage or diagrams for one or more questions. To accommodate these, create a new question of type "Description" and put your reading passage or diagram into the Question text box.
Description questions look like regular ones but don't have answers.
They're used for instructions, passages, graphs, diagrams, and other content relevant to the quiz.

You should also include, either as Question text or as a separate Description question, instructions indicating to which questions the passage or diagram applies. Then, when you select questions for a particular quiz you would include the passage, instructions, and relevant questions. If you want to insert random questions, then create the questions for a passage in their own category so that you can randomly select from just that category and be sure that the questions will relate to the passage in question.

Common Options for Quizzes

There are many options when creating quizzes; here are descriptions of some of the ones you're most likely to care about.
  • Open/Close time: To restrict when the quiz is available. Especially useful if being used as a cumulative and/or graded assessment.
  • Attempts allowed: Let students retake your quiz (otherwise, set to 1), making your assessments into learning experiences themselves. For example, you might assign a quiz for homework with a minimum passing score, but for an in-class test you wouldn't allow multiple attempts.
  • Time limit: note that this keeps running even if the student is disconnected.
  • Grading method: Taking the average grade can encourage them to do well by allowing but not unduly rewarding multiple retakes. With the "last grade" option, students can learn from mistakes and get the highest score then can, but they may just remember the questions
  • Question order: usually shuffle, unless questions are building
  • How questions behaved: deferred feedback is probably how you want to go; it doesn't tell students what they got right or wrong until they finish the quiz. Elsewhere you can set whether the quiz will tell them the right answers; I usually don't show them until the quiz is closed so that students can't share the correct answers. With the immediate feedback option, students see right away their performance after each question.
  • Browser security: full screen with popup makes it more difficult for students to switch to other windows to look up answers. It also minimizes distractions.
  • Enforced delay: choose this to encourage students to stop and think about their answers before re-attempting a quiz.

Useful Links

Moodle Demo Site without data
Moodle Demo School with many classes. You can log in as a student or teacher to see how these activities might be implemented in other contexts; it's a great way to find new ideas for how to create online or blended learning environments.

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