Pools, Questions & Tests

1. How do I get started building Pools, Questions and Tests?
2. How do I reuse questions for a test?
3. What are the best practices I should adopt for conducting an exam?
4. What are the best practices for conducting an exam (in a short list)?
5. What are best practices for large randomized exams?
6. Where can I go for more information before I run an exam?
7. How can I create proper mulitiple choice questions?
8. How do I copy a quiz from an old course to a new course?

1. How do I get started building Pools, Questions and Tests?

Download the PDF: Working with Pools, Questions and Tests


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2. How do I reuse questions for a test?

Download the PDF: Reusing Questions for Tests
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3. What are the best practices I should adopt for conducting an exam?

Download the PDF: Best Practices for Exams
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4. What are the best practices for conducting an exam (in a short list)?

INSTRUCTORS:

  • Give an exam one question at a time. This ensures that the user's java session is continuously updated and the likelihood of system timeouts is lessened.
  • DO NOT use the "Force Completion" option in tests to force a student to complete the exam in one sitting. If "Force Completion" is used, students with network problems will not be able to log in again and continue the exam. If you use "force completion", then that makes it impossible for students to recover in case they leave their exam for any reason (for example, to restart after a network issue). Students will be prohibited from re-entering their current attempt on the exam. Set "force completion" to off. This still honours the exam time limits, and number of attempts,  however setting this to "off" will let them restart their computers to fix problems and then pick up where they left off on that attempt.
  • Use a reliable WIRED connection. Wireless connections can sometimes drop, yet this is not apparent to the student. It appears that answers are being saved, and in reality, they are not because there is no longer a connection to the server.
  • Avoid using randomized tests. The reason randomization is a problem is that each version of the exam in a randomized test is created in java memory only. So, a randomized test, should the java session for the user die, will not persist anywhere, and will be unrecoverable. Removing randomization will use a version of the test from the database, so at least the user would get the same test with the same order the next time he/she took the test.
  • System timeout is 90 minutes. If you have a two hour exam, and 90 minute timeout, students may have problems.

STUDENTS:

  • Blackboard automatically saves answers within ten seconds of the answer being changed. Monitor that to make sure that the answers are indeed being saved. It is always good practice to SAVE answer every 5 minutes or so, especially when answering an essay question. If the answers are not able to be saved (after about 30 seconds to a minute) Blackboard should display a popup message indicating that perhaps the network connection has disconnected, at which point you should start recovery procedures (restart)
  • Don't run any other programs at the same time you are doing the exam (unless required for the exam) as they could interfere with the web browser.
  • Avoid using Wireless, as wireless connections are subject to disconnections.
  • Make sure you "touch" blackboard at least once every 20 minutes. Usually this is a problem only if someone is using an editor outside of Blackboard to compose an essay question, instead of the editor built into Blackboard. You need to do something in Blackboard roughly every 20 minutes to make sure it doesn't think you went away. This can be as simple as typing a space in an essay question to "change" the answer and trigger the automatic saving feature.

Recovering if a problem occurs:

  1. The most common causes of problems are either a dropped wifi network connection, or a long period of inactivity causing Blackboard to "time out" your session. The symptom will be either your answers are not being saved automatically, or a popup appears telling you that the network connection appears to have been lost, or when you try to save an answer it will tell you that you need to log in again (if your session timed out).
  2. Note any unsaved answers so that you can easily enter them after recovery.
  3. Log out of Blackboard by hitting the "logout" button.
  4. Shut down your web browser.
  5. Re-establish your network connection. This may require that you restart your computer.
  6. Start your browser, log into Blackboard, and re-enter the exam.
  7. Once in the exam, you should be able to pick up where you left off. All the automatically saved answers should be there.
  8. You may have to re-enter any answers that were not automatically saved.

 


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5. What are best practices for large randomized exams?

  • Avoid randomizing answer responses WITHIN questions when pool is greater than 200 (done within question key itself).
  • Keep question pools to under 200, i.e. use more pools, not bigger pools -- this also makes test development easier and question bank maintenance easier in many ways for the course developer (moving questions between pools is difficult).
  • If creating a test with approximately over 150 questions, do not use the Randomize Question Order setting in the Test Options.
  • If delivering test questions one-at-a-time, do not randomize question order in Test Options (regardless of number of questions).

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6. Where can I go for more information before I run an exam?

It is best practice, before you run an important exam, to contact the help desk / Instructional Support Services to ensure your exam will run smoothly. There are monthly downtimes scheduled for servicing and updating software which may or may not coincide with your scheduled exam.
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7. How can I create proper mulitiple choice questions?

Download the reference:  14 Rules for Writing Multiple Choice Questions

Download the reference: How to Create Better Multiple Choice Questions


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8. How do I copy a quiz from an old course to a new course?

Blackboard Copy a Quiz

In order to copy a quiz from one section to another, you will need to follow these steps:

1.  Access the course that has the quiz you want to copy
2.  Select control panel on the left side
3.  Choose 'Course Tools'
4.  Select 'Tests, Surveys and Pools'
5.  Click on 'Tests'
6.  Beside the quiz you want to export, click on the downward facing contextual arrows and choose 'Export'

The quiz will then automatically download to your default downloads folder on your computer.  The file will be downloaded as a .zip file.  It is important that you keep the file in this format.  This is the required format for importing.  

To import:
7.  Access the course to which you want the quiz to be uploaded
8.  Select control panel on the left side
9.  Choose 'Course Tools'
10.  Select 'Tests, Surveys and Pools'
11.  Click on 'Tests'
12.  Click the  'Import Test' button
13.  Click on the 'Browse my computer' button and select the downloaded .zip for the quiz
14.  Click Submit

The file will then upload to the course and properly place the quiz in the course.  The quiz is not yet deployed, however.  You will have to go to the content area you wish the quiz to be viewed from and use the 'Create Assessment -> Test' dropdown option.  You will see the quiz listed for selection.  By choosing, this will deploy it in the content area.


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