Posted by: | 23rd Jun, 2009

Assessment Tools


I was thrilled to learn that I had to develop an exam for my Moodle course. While I rarely give my students exams outside out mathematics, I usually cap off my novel studies with a written exam. Many of the questions I formatted into my Moodle course on The Outsiders (1967) are questions taken directly from my hard-copy exams that I use each year. My exam assesses general reading comprehension, characterization, literary themes, and symbolism. These are all foundational curriculum objectives at my grade level. In the end, I developed an exam that contained:

  • 25 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 10 Matching Questions
  • 2 Short Answer Questions
  • 2 Essay Questions

The exam is programed so that it will be automatically graded, save for the two essay questions which require manually grading. I have set a time limit of 90 minutes for students to complete the exam. I also took the time to pre-programme post-exam feedback for the students based on their overall performance. My final question included an embedded image.

A Few Thoughts

  • Formatting the exam was relatively easy, but could have been much easier. For example, although I consulted two Moodle guides and tried various approaches, I was unable to create more than one multiple choice question at a time. I was hoping to be able to edit many multiple choice questions on one page as opposed to formatting them one at a time-what a pain.
  • Moodle’s definition of a short answer question is at odds with mine. In order to take advantage of auto-grading, short answer questions need to be designed in an closed-structure, with designated accepted answers. In my opinion, a short answer question should require students two write two or three sentences as a response. An essay question should require several paragraphs. Therefore, if one is only looking for a one or two word response, perhaps a cloze procedure is a better choice.
  • Three cheers for auto-assess! This will save me a great deal of time. I’ll only have to manual grade a small number of questions before I provide additional feedback and send the marks to the grade book. This is certainly one of the benefits to using a Moodle exam over a hard-copy exam. No problems here!
  • I like the idea of shuffling the questions to discourage cheating. If my students complete the exam during class time like I had planned, I want o make sure they are providing an individual effort. Something else to consider is that my students know how to use Blue-tooth file transferring between Mac machines. I can just imagine some of them using Blue-tooth to collaborate on exam answers.

In the Future

  • I’d like to find out more about how one could adapt a Moodle exam to meet the needs of all my learners. Each year, I have one or two students who require a scribe in order to complete a written exam. I wonder if I could use a text-to-speech tool in Moodle to faciltiate this.
  • What can one do about students who are absent from school during the exam? I suppose the student could take the exam from home if possible, but what if they can’t? I am concerned about this if the exam is set for a selective release and has a time limit. Can one simply edit the release date to accomodate one or two students who missed the first exam?
  • A with any learning technology, there is always a chance that it will fail us when we need it most. While I enjoy a certain degree of flexibility in my teaching environment, others do not. What a nightmare it would be to have an exam scheduled during a time when the server failed or a blackout occurred. I guess always having a back-up plan is a good idea.


Hinton, S.E. (1967). The Outsiders. New York, NY: Viking Books.

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