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Dr. Gerald Dillashaw uses Moodle quizzes to assess students in online summer course

Gerald Dillashaw headshot.Dr. Cheri Crabb with Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) hosted the second online course discussion group for new online faculty on Friday, March 15.  These discussion groups focus on enhancing face-to-face courses for online environments, and each meeting has an emphasis on a particular topic. This meeting concentrated on testing and online discussions.

Dr. Gerald Dillashaw, professor of education, was the “featured faculty” for this discussion, and he shared information about his online summer course, Science Without Borders. He displayed his Moodle site and discussed how he frequently uses Moodle quizzes to ensure students are reading and comprehending the material from this science class.

“Science Without Borders is content heavy as opposed to process or skills based,” he said. “Students are expected to sort through material and understand complex content, so I quiz them to make sure they’re keeping up and understanding the material.”

Dr. Dillashaw offered tips to new online faculty. Below is a summarized list of suggestions he shared on how to effectively quiz students online.

MORE: Check out tips from the first online course discussion group meeting here.

MORE: Check out tips from the second online course discussion group meeting here.

First, determine the types of test questions you would like to use.

  • Dr. Dillashaw said it is important to consider what information you would like to assess the students on first because that will help you in determining which types of exam questions to create.
    • Tip: Multiple-choice questions offer the greatest versatility in terms of testing abilities. Multiple-choice exams are especially useful for content-heavy courses.
      • When teaching smaller classes, it is best to use four answer choices (A, B, C, and D) for multiple-choice questions. Dr. Dillashaw said faculty gain little to no advantage by using five answer choices in regular courses, so he recommends using four.
    • Tip: Fill-in-the-blank questions often require manual grading because students typically provide more creative answers than the three answer options a faculty member enters for a question graded through Moodle.
      • Fill-in-the-blank questions mark misspelled answers as incorrect, so you must always check the exam.

Place time restrictions on the accessibility of exams.

  • Dr. Dillashaw places a 24-hour availability window on his exams, so his students are forced to begin the test or quiz within a reasonable amount of time.

Time your exams.

  • By setting strict time restraints on quizzes or exams, Dr. Dillashaw said you can ensure most students study beforehand.
    • Tip: For example, Dr. Dillashaw gives his students 30 minutes to complete a 20-question quiz, so they understand they must be familiar with the material beforehand. Granting more than 30 minutes could allow them to look up all of the answers online or in their textbooks.

Implement safeguards on exams to discourage cheating.

  • Dr. Dillashaw enables the “shuffle questions” and/or the “shuffle answer choices” feature(s) on his quizzes to prevent students from cheating. Shuffled questions or answers make it more difficult for students to share answers when they are working under tight deadlines.
  • Additionally, Dr. Dillashaw enables Moodle’s “deferred feedback” option, which does not allow students to see the quiz’s correct answers until the exam has been closed.

Use Moodle’s assessment analytics.

  • Dr. Dillashaw uses the exam analytics Moodle provides to see where students struggle most. He said this graphic highlights common questions that were missed, and he can scan it quickly to determine if there were widespread quiz problems.

If you are interested in teaching online courses and would like to learn more, contact Dr. Cheri Crabb with Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or tlt@elon.edu.

Sam Parker

Sam Parker

Sam Parker is a Marketing Student Writer Intern with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies.

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