The process of developing a quiz in Moodle was both frustrating and inspiring, which is normal for a good constructivist learning activity. This was the first time I have ever attempted to construct a quiz in any learning management system and, frankly, I was surprised at the amount of versatility built in to the Moodle system. Of course, I couldn’t help but wonder how much easier it might be to implement that versatility in Canvas or another more modern LMS. That was the frustrating part.
On the other hand, there was plenty of inspiration in the process, too. As I actually experimented with some of Moodle’s available options (such as pre-programmed feedback, multiple attempts, time limitations, review options, etc) I began to realize that one could actually design a great formative quiz that could be very helpful to learners in a course like English Writing with Multimedia.
The idea of a formative quiz was encouraged by Gibbs and Simpson, with such statements as “the kind of learning that coursework involves has long term consequences while the kind of learning involved in revision for exams does not” (p. 5). Gibbs and Simpson also point out that students much prefer to be assessed on coursework and consider it fairer than exams alone (p. 5).
Therefore, because the EWM class is assessed almost exclusively by learners’ performances in the coursework, I felt that a summative quiz was simply not an option. Although a few of the questions were very basic (“What is YouTube?” for example) the questions were generally designed to stimulate some reasoning and then provide learners with positive affirmation for successful attempts at that reasoning.
By providing feedback on individual question responses–without giving away the answer–students should then be able to think again, understand the reason for being wrong, and figure out the correct answer without simply resorting to trial and error.
The formative aspect of the quiz can be dramatically enhanced by making it very clear from the beginning of the course that all the quizzes they will be taking will be “formative” quizzes that do not count for marks. If learners know that the quiz is designed to help them identify key concepts that are vital to their success in future tasks and projects (which is what they are graded on), they are much more likely to seek knowledge of those concepts rather than rely on superficial “cue seeking” to hopefully get good quiz scores.
In reference to the required essay questions, I am not sure that I would include those on a real-life formative quiz. By requiring students to write essays for such a quiz, I feel that I may be wasting a lot of their “formative time.” Of course, many educators would argue that the process of writing the essay is, in itself, a formative activity. But I am not sure how many students would understand that argument and accept it. Because we are living in an age of instant gratification, multitasking, and social networking, I think that all formative quiz questions must provide immediate feedback.
While working with Moodle, I tried a few different ways of getting it to provide instant pre-programmed text feedback as soon as the question was answered, but was unsuccessful. It appears that the most Moodle will do is allow a learner to click on “Check” and only see if he/she is correct or incorrect. This, in my opinion, is a major flaw and, assuming that it is not possible to improve in Moodle, it is reason enough to consider using a different LMS quiz system for formative quizzes. Hopefully, my assumption is wrong and that will not be necessary.
To conclude, I want to point out that one other source of frustration in this activity was the fact that, because my new semester begins in 2.5 hours, I have been extremely busy during the past week and simply did not have enough time to fully investigate Moodle’s quiz possibilities. I look forward to trying again at a later date, though, because it truly appears to have enormous potential.
Gibbs, G., & Simpson, C. (2005). Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), 3-31. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/fast/pdfs/Gibbs%20and%20Simpson%202004-05.pdf