Best Practices: 30 Tips for Creating Quiz Questions in Your LMS
Assessments allow teachers to evaluate how well students are doing in a course, as well as identify the key areas where a course might need improvement—they work for both corporations and educational institutions.
In Moodle™-based learning management systems (LMS), instructors often use quiz and assignment activities to assess knowledge. They may also use forums, glossaries, databases, lessons, and workshop activities. With so many options, creating assessments in your courses might sound like a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we provide 30 tips for writing excellent quiz questions.
- Make sure your questions are valid. They should map to the level of taxonomy set in your course objectives. This will also help avoid making questions too hard or too easy.
- Write assessments early in the design phase. When adding your course to your LMS, first create all the questions in the question bank. Then create the activity and add questions from your bank.
- Avoid trick questions. You don’t want to confuse your students. If students are consistently missing a question then evaluate it and find out why.
- Use scenarios to assess higher-level objectives. This could be done in a lesson activity or a multiple choice question within a quiz.
- Take advantage of Open LMS’s assignment activity for higher-level objectives. Use advanced grading methods for evaluation. For assignments, at this moment there is no reporting function in Moodle™ to compare students’ performance at the criterion level (like you can in Quiz) but you can evaluate overall scores.
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- Organize your questions in the question bank in meaningful categories. You could categorize them by TLO (Terminal Learning Objectives) so you’re able to group all ELOs (Enabling Learning Objectives). We suggest organizing them by topic if you typically create quizzes per subject.
- Weigh your questions in the quiz. You don’t need to match the total points to the maximum grade of the quiz (let the LMS scale it for you). Instead, focus on the weight of each question. For example, you can set multiple choice questions as one point. If it’s a multiple choice question with multiple answers, you can weigh the total value as the number of correct answers. For matching, use the total number of points as the number of items that must be matched.
- Avoid using feedback in pre-tests. Question feedback can provide specific reasons for why an answer is incorrect. Feedback is often used in post-tests.
- Set review options to control when students view various information about the quiz attempt, such as feedback. You can use deferred feedback.
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- If allowing for multiple attempts, be sure that you select the aggregation method that you wish to apply.
- Randomize the question order within a quiz so that it varies based on attempt and between students. Use the random question feature in your LMS so that questions are not always presented in the same order. You can do this by changing the question order setting to “Shuffled randomly.” This is a useful tactic to cut down on cheating and when allowing for multiple attempts.
- Randomize the order of correct answer(s) and distractors display within a question. You may have a tendency to place correct answers in the same position. Allow the system to reorder these for you automatically. In Open LMS, you can set each question to “Shuffle” the choices so that they display in a random order for each attempt. In order for this feature to work, you’ll also need to enable the question behavior setting for the quiz to “Shuffled within questions."
- Randomize questions by using question pools. In Open LMS, this can be done by adding a certain number of random questions from a given question bank category.
- Avoid using too many True/False questions. Make sure that you are assessing the intended level of learning.
- Avoid having too many items to match in both matching and drag-and-drop questions. They can be overwhelming to students and they can cause unnecessary scrolling which affects usability. Instead, consider splitting the question in two or breaking it into multiple question types.
- Avoid having long answers in matching questions. The answers are displayed in a drop-down menu. If they’re long, it makes it hard for students to read when trying to match the terms. In Open LMS, the correct answer and distractors should go into the Answer area and the matching item should go into the Question area. You might want to 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.
- Remember that Essay questions require manual grading. If you want to make use of automated grading, evaluate the question in an Assignment-type activity. Use the Assignment module if the expected response will be more than a couple of paragraphs.
- For multiple choice questions with multiple correct answers, make sure that you give the distractors negative points so that students are penalized when selecting an incorrect response. If you don’t, then students could select all answers and receive full credit even though they selected an incorrect response.
- Use multiple choice questions as a fill-in-the-blank question type but with choices. If you decide to do this, always use a standard number of underscores for your blank. You can even have two blanks in a sentence, but avoid using a blank at the beginning of the sentence. Instead, have the question stem appear first.
- Be consistent with the formatting of your questions. You might always want to capitalize the first letter of each question option. However, it’s best to avoid doing this if creating options for fill-in-the-blank questions since the options wouldn’t actually be capitalized unless at the beginning of the sentence.
- Instead of using colons after the question stem, write a meaningful question or create a fill-in-the-blank question.
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- Avoid creating question distractors that are obviously incorrect. Well-written distractors should be plausible. This can be one of the most challenging parts of question writing.
- Make the length of distractors similar to that of the correct answer. The correct answer is typically longer. Keep this in mind when writing distractors.
- Don’t be afraid to add images to an assessment question. For example, you can use them in drag-and-drop matching questions and in multiple choice questions (e.g. a chart).
- Beware of the use of the word “which.” Oftentimes, questions are written incorrectly when making use of it. It’s incorrect to say “Which is the best…”, the correct form would be “Which method is the best…”
- Avoid the use of the word “not” in questions. For example “Which of the following items is NOT…”
- Avoid using the words “only”, “never”, and “always” in questions, especially in True/False statements.
- Avoid the use of the option “All of the above” when using randomization. Instead, opt for using “All of these.” If you can, avoid using either of them!
- If you continue to use the same phrasing in the correct answer and the distractors, then pull that text into the question stem to avoid redundancy.
- Check the reports to see how your students are scoring on your assessments. If students are performing poorly on a particular question, review it to ensure that the right answer is marked in the system as the correct one. Review the question for validity and review your course content to improve its quality. In Open LMS, you can click the Attempts link within a quiz to evaluate responses using the Grades report. You can even download the data into other formats such as a spreadsheet. You can also access this data by navigating to a Quiz activity in the Navigation block and expanding it to view the Results link. You can also try viewing the Responses and Statistics. It’s that easy to find out the average grade of attempts, standard deviations, standard errors, and more!