Monday, November 17, 2014

Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part Two: Quiz Security and Cheating

This is the 2nd article in a series related to using the Moodle Quiz Tool.

Quiz Security and Cheating

Online testing presents opportunities for students to be creative in their attempts to "game the system" when it comes to taking quizzes. Most online quizzes are meant to be taken outside of class and for that reason the instructor has limited control over the students' conduct during a quiz. Students can download the questions and print them out, take pictures of questions with their mobile device and send them to other students, have other students take the test for them, use their notes and textbooks during the quiz, and the list goes on and on!

The anonymity of the online environment may open up new avenues for cheaters, but it's not really much different than your face-to-face classes. A few people will go to great lengths to cheat, but most students will be honest as long as it's not too easy to get away with cheating. A few creative strategies can be employed to eliminate most of the easy cheats and to make cheating more trouble than it's worth for students. Read on for a few strategies for countering cheating schemes.

Printing and Sharing Questions

  • If you have the quiz enabled to display feedback and correct answers, students can print the results page from their web browser or take a picture of it and share it with others. Or students can print the quiz questions directly from the quiz while it is in progress (by using the print feature in the web browser or screen capture). According to Moodle, the key to discouraging this behavior is to randomize the question order and the answer order. This makes printouts a lot less useful because students will have to look through the printout for the corresponding questions and pay attention to what the correct answers are instead of just the letters corresponding to the answers.
  • Another strategy is to create larger question banks and use subsets of questions and let Moodle randomly choose questions from each subset. With this randomizing it is less likely that students will be delivered the same test and it will discourage them from attempting to share tests.
  • In the quiz settings, under layout choose to have every question delivered on a new page. When this setting is enabled, the student would have to print a separate page for each quiz question which will use up their time limit on the quiz and also deplete the balance on their student print account.

Using the Textbook During the Quiz

  • During an unsupervised quiz, students have the opportunity to look up the answers in the textbook or their notes. There are ways to make the textbook and notes less directly useful. Timed quizzes are the single most effective tool for eliminating the temptation to use the textbook. A timed quiz requires students to complete the quiz in a certain amount of time. If you add enough question to the quiz and make the time short enough, students won't have time to look up every answer. recommends about 30 seconds per multiple-choice question.
  • Designing questions that require students to synthesize and apply information will also discourage them from trying to look up answers. These types of questions require that students understand the material and be able to apply it creatively to answer the question. So while students may still take the time to look at the book, they will need to understand what they have read to successfully answer the question.

Working with Friends

If your students are on the same campus, they may get together in a lab and try to take the quiz together. Random question order, random answer order, and questions randomly pulled from subsets of the test bank will discourage this behavior. If one student's screen doesn't look like the other person's it is harder for them to quickly compare and answer the questions together. A timed quiz also makes it hard for two people to cheat if they have different questions and only a short amount of time to answer.

Having Someone Else Take the Test

It is sad to say, but students will sometimes pay their classmates or others who have already taken the course in the past, to take online quizzes for them. There are two ways to counter this cheating strategy:
  1. Have an occasional proctored exam where students are required take the test in a lab or testing center and show their student ID in order to take the quiz. In the quiz settings, require a password (in the Extra restrictions on attempts section) so that students cannot enter the quiz without the proctor entering the password into Moodle. If students have not taken other quizzes or done the work until then, they will do poorly on the proctored exam.
  2. To eliminate current classmates from taking each others quizzes, only make them available for a short time. You could require everyone take the test within a 2 or 4 hour block. If the test is properly randomized, it will be very difficult to take it more than once during the open test period. The test taker will worry about their own grade first, then about the other student's grade.
Coming next: Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part Three: Tips for Creating Quiz Questions

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

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: