Moving assessments online has many potential benefits. For one, you can free up class time for more group or active learning activities. Out of class, LMS-based quizzing eliminates the chore of manually grading objective multiple choice, true or false, or match questions. (This last one alone is enough to pique the interest of many instructors.)
Some faculty, however, are concerned that, by allowing students to take quizzes on their own time, they are encouraging students to cheat. This is a valid concern; an online quiz is a de facto open-book, open-note test. But is that always a bad thing?
In this article, I want to discuss some strategies to help tailor your assessment methods to the online space, deter cheating, encourage the development of critical thinking skills, and get the most out of the technology tools available to you.
Strategies: Moodle settings
Let’s take a closer look at some of the settings you can tweak in Moodle to discourage cheating. Many of these are the default settings for new Quiz activities.
Set a time limit
Enforcing a time limit on a quiz is one of the easiest steps you can take. With time as a factor, students should not be able to scour their textbook or pages of Google results to find an answer for every question. On the other hand, well-prepared students may have ample time to finish without using notes. They also could be in a great position to refer back to the material to reinforce concepts and be confident in their understanding before they even get the quiz results back.
To set a time limit, head to the Moodle Quiz activity. Check the box next to Time Limit, and choose your preferred amount of time.
Use a question bank
Set up a question bank containing many more questions than you actually want to include in the quiz. Then, have the Quiz activity draw random questions for each quiz attempt. This will make it very unlikely that two students will be able to share answers. In addition to writing your own questions, textbook publishers will often be able to supply large question sets that can be imported directly into Moodle.
You can get very specific in the question bank by creating categories to draw from. For example, I may have a category titled “Chapter: 1 Questions” with subcategories of “easy,” “moderate,” and “difficult.” Once my question bank is full, I can easily set up a quiz that draws a few question for each quiz attempt from each of these subcategories to make sure each student has a unique, but balanced, quiz.
One question per page
If you set a quiz to show many questions per page, students have been known to take screenshots and share the questions (though not necessarily with the correct answers). While it’s still possible for students to screenshot each individual question page, it’s much more cumbersome, especially when the quiz has a time limit in effect. Showing one question per page is the default setting for Moodle quizzes.
Restrict review options
You can set Moodle to hide the quiz review summary until after the quiz is closed. This would keep students from reviewing questions, answers, and feedback during the quiz period. You can still allow students to view their quiz score without allowing a full review. See the Review options settings in your Moodle quiz activity to configure your preferred settings.
Embrace the open-book format
In addition to using the Moodle settings discussed above to limit cheating, you may want to consider designing your overall assessment with an open-book format in mind.
Don’t be afraid to make questions harder
Since students have notes and their book to use, you should feel free to challenge them to demonstrate a higher level of mastery of the material. Use distractor answers and questions that require critical thinking or analysis to answer. You can even refer directly to course material (e.g., a sample problem or dataset from the course textbook). You can test for sound and thorough comprehension instead of memorization or recall.
If two or more students are working on a quiz with randomized answers, they will be unable to simply split the test up or copy from another. However, they will have the opportunity to engage with each other on the material, talk through problems, and collaboratively problem-solve.
Students are going to use any resource they can. You know they are. And they know that you know, too. But by clearing the air and consistently communicating your philosophies and expectations — “yes, this is an open-book test, and yes, it will be very difficult if you don’t study” — you are setting your students up for success and making it less likely they will rely solely on attempting to look up answers during the quiz itself.
Moving assessments online may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly a topic worth exploring (If only to avoid ever having to use a Scantron sheet again).
Academic Technology Services is here to support you as you explore integrating technology into your curriculum. For an overview of creating question banks, configuring quiz activities, and understanding report statistics with Moodle quizzes, see my new eight-part video walkthrough for setting up Moodle quizzes, or sign up for the
ATS Moodle quiz workshop in the Clark Library Digital Lab on Oct. 4, 2016.
Much credit goes to the following articles for information and inspiration for this piece: