Authoring and delivery

Your context

Investigate your institution's approach to institutionally hosted and open source...

Foundations

Peat, M. & Franklin, S. (2002) 'Supporting student learning: the use of...

The online and blended teaching and learning environments have a wide range of educational assessment possibilities. As with fully face-to-face teaching, you will be using assessments to measure how well students are progressing towards set, desired learning outcomes.

Tests and quizzes are commonly used to assess learning achievements, and can be developed and delivered using a multitude of tools. There are two components to using technology tools for online tests and quizzes: authoring and delivery. You may have content available as part of a textbook, or you may want to develop questions on your own. You may have access to testing tools within your LMS/VLE, or you may want to explore the variety of technology tools available beyond that.

The next activity will allow you to review approaches both to the authoring and the delivery components of tests and quizzes in teaching online, and also to consider the tools you may want to use for each.

In the following activity, consider the question, pause to reflect on your response, then click the 'Our thoughts' button to consider our ideas. Then, think about what possible challenges might be involved in that aspect of authoring or delivering tests and quizzes, and click the 'Things to remember' button to see our suggestions and tips. Use the 'Next' button to move to the next question.
You will now be presented with some key questions to help you to review approaches to the authoring and delivery components of tests and quizzes in teaching online, and also the tools you may want to use for each. Consider each question, pause to reflect on your response, then continue on for our thoughts and tips.

Useful links

http://transforming assessment.com/moodle has a number of...

Question 1 of 6:

What is the value of importing question banks from your course textbook?

Our thoughts:

Question banks are collections of questions that you can import into your course. Taken from textbooks, they can be robust and easy to integrate into your LMS/VLE or web-based exam tool. Check with the publisher for possible question banks if your course textbook did not come with an accompanying CD. There are often teacher access codes for online test banks on publisher websites. If you are creating your own question banks, check the formatting guidelines for the exam tool you are using for all importing options.

Remember:

Question banks can contain mistakes or omissions! When using question banks, check through the questions provided to be sure that they cover all of the content that you want students to be tested on. Remember that you can always add your own questions to the question bank.


Question 2 of 6:

What exam settings have you considered using?

Our thoughts:

Exam settings enable you to control the assessment experience. For example, questions can be made to appear in random order – and you can even set the answers to appear in random order! Check release settings to see if you can set up your exams to open and close at a specific date and time. Also check for time settings to limit how long your students have to complete an exam. And, check progress settings to see if you can limit students from moving on until they have answered a question, or set of questions.

Remember:

Let students know in advance if the questions/answers are random so that if they want clarification they will be prepared to bring more than just a question or answer number to your attention.

Check to be sure that answers including an 'all of the above' answer are not randomised, or change those answer options to 'All of the answers given'.


Question 3 of 6:

How would you integrate multimedia into your exam questions or answer choices?

Our thoughts:

You most likely will be able to include a variety of media types in both your question and answer content areas. Consider including graphics as well as audio and video clips for student review and response. Be careful when including links to websites for students to review during exams; to prevent cheating, some exam utilities (within LMS/VLEs and open source) do not allow for additional browsers to open while students are taking exams. If you are teaching in the sciences, look into using an equation editor (WYSIWYG software that allows you to build maths and science equations) that works with your exam utility.

Remember:

Test every question so that you can see what the students will be seeing when they take an exam. Check to be sure that every graphic is visible and alternatives are provided for students who cannot access graphics or multimedia. Be careful not to be too descriptive in your alternative text as it could give away the answer!


Question 4 of 6:

What value could you find in integrating student-generated exam questions?

Our thoughts:

Consider asking your students to create exam questions and supply model answers for course-related topics. This will allow them to reflect on what they have learned, and contemplate what makes for valid exam questions as well as answers. You can also split your class into groups, assigning each to create question pools for an exam. Students will have worked through the answers to their own generated questions, and will learn from the process of collaborative question development.

Remember:

Students will know the answers to their own questions, so consider using student-generated questions as extra credit, or only using essay type student-submitted questions.


Question 5 of 6:

Which content and question types do you use most often?

Our thoughts:

Even if you teach the same course over and over again, consider varying the content and question type that you use in your exams. If you have typically used multiple-choice questions, try substituting a few short answer or essay questions. Variety keeps online students engaged in the learning experience!

Remember:

Keep learning outcomes in mind as you are changing question types and be sure that you are still covering an assessment of the breadth and depth of content knowledge.


Question 6 of 6:

Where could you provide more room for feedback?

Our thoughts:

Check for areas where you can add feedback for right and wrong answers to exam questions. Imported questions do not typically include feedback, and this allows you to add your own voice and create a customised assessment experience. Also, review exams which have a significant impact on student learning and consider adding a few survey-type questions related to the exam itself, allowing students to feedback on their assessment experience. If you do include this feature, remember to provide your own response to student feedback after you have graded their exams.

Remember:

Providing open questions for students during an exam can distract from the learning experience. Make sure that you alert students to feedback requests in advance of the actual exam.

Do this icon
Useful tip

Before you publish any exam for your students to use, access the student view in your LMS/VLE, and review and take the test yourself! That will give you the best idea of how the students will experience the learning assessments you have created (you may also want to check the test on a mobile device). Also, check with the relevant learning and teaching support unit at your institution about resources available to support online students who encounter issues while taking an exam.

Feedback, branching, and contingency

Feedback is a critical component of student learning, and is even more important in the online student-centred environment. Most technology tools that you will use to develop tests and quizzes allow you to provide feedback for your students on right and wrong answers.

Many tools also allow for branching within tests and quizzes. Branching creates a specific pathway for a student to take through an exam, based on their responses to specific questions. Branching scenarios need to be planned out in the authoring stage, and can be used to prevent students from moving ahead before they have mastered specific concepts.

You can also build in contingency testing so that your students have the option to retake tests and quizzes multiple times if they fail on their first attempt.

In the following activity, click 'Next' to reveal a list of features to look for when creating exams online.

Consider the following list of features to look for when creating exams online.

Portfolio activity

Using the questions outlined in this section of the course, compare and...

  • What question types are available?
  • Can you/will you want to randomise questions and/or answers?
  • Can you/will you want to limit advancement based on correct answers?
  • Can you/will you want to limit the number of questions displayed at one time?
  • Can you/will you want to prohibit backtracking (returning to previous questions and changing the answer)?
  • Can you/will you want to allow students to save their work and return at a later time to complete the exam?
  • Can you/will you want to enter feedback for correct and incorrect answers?
  • Can you/will you want to set date and time availability options and limits?
  • Can you/will you want to limit access to other applications while students are taking the exam?
  • Can you/will you want to change the number of times a student can take the exam?

Your context

Investigate your institution's approach to institutionally hosted and open source assessment tools before you engage with your students in any of these media.

Foundations

Useful links

Portfolio

Duration: 40 minutes

Using the questions outlined in this section of the course, compare and contrast the available features within your LMS/VLE and at least one other testing tool you have come across. Which tool provides the most effective features for assessing your students' performance?

Download the attached document to review the questions and record your responses, or use the relevant page of your Teaching Online portfolio.