Editing test question files

Review questions vs test questions

Please, understand the difference made at PEOI between review questions and test questions. Review questions are in HTML files that merely contain links back to concepts in chatper text. Students can go over all the review questions as many times as they like. Test questions are not visible to students, and are only used for automated graded tests (see explanations on how automated test are created and operate in the Guidelines to tests, or ideally take an end of chatper quiz in any PEOI's completed course to see how that works).

Each review and test question must be linked to the concept on which the question is based, and which is stated in the text of the chapter. The links are set up in "Summarize concepts" by inserting HTML anchor tags for each concept in the chapter text.

Seeding test questions

Test questions are located in data banks that cannot be viewed by students, except when test questions are extracted to create a test. Each of PEOI's courses should have data banks with over one thousand test questions. As indicated earlier, test questions data banks are seeded using review questions developed in "Create questions". The test questions thus seeded in the automated process of "Create questions" are crude, possibly defectively written, and mere transformation of the review question into some of the formats of test questions.

Editing test questions

These seeded test questions need to be verified and edited if possible, or discarded. This is done in "Edit questions". The advantage of the seeding is that test questions now exist for all the anchor tags that deserve to have a concept and review question.

Parameters of test questions

To make tests as useful as possible for learning (as well as for assessment), questions files have a special structure that is intended to accommodate a variety of types of questions, with audio, images, graphs or tables as supporting material wherever appropriate, and links for immediate access to explanations whenever a question is not answered correctly in a quiz.

For that purpose, each question contains a number of parameters, in addition to the text of the question itself. Some of the parameters can be modified by authors. Modifiable parameters are
- type: it dictates how the question will appear on the screen and how the student will answer it; the types are
0- multiple choice
1- true/false
2- fill-in
3- calculation
4- graph
5- essay
- graph: this is a file name or name(s) of the image(s), graph(s), table(s), audio or video clip(s) on which the question is based (if more than one, they are separated by commas "," without space after commas)
- reference: this is the portion of chapter, section or subsection file name which appears in a separate window in the upper left corner of the screen when a student has not answered a question correctly
- answer: this is one letter in multiple choice questions or one word or sentence for calculation or fill-in questions (if more than one correct answer is possible, they must be separated by commas "," without blank space after commas); note that the possible answers of multiple choice questions are randomly rearranged each time a question is used, and consequently, it is no problem to use the same letter answer for all the answers of a file
- anchor: this is a name or number corresponding to a location HTML tag in the course text material where the concept is explained, and it is used to move the text of the chapter or section to where the concept is located to the top of the explanation box discussed in reference above; (without an anchor the explanation window shows the very top of the chapter or section which may not be very helpful to the student)
- concept: this is the title of the concept on which the question is based; it appears on the bottom of the screen after a question has been answered by a student

In addition to the modifiable parameters, the "Edit questions" procedure generates a few non-modifiable parameters for each question. These include the date the question is last changed and the name of the author entering the changes to the question. As previously mentioned the changes do not take effect until they are verified.

It is clear that modifying or entering parameters can be challenging for anyone. Assistance of PEOI's staff is recommended if changes in parameters is deemed necessary. It is expected that entering parameters should not be an important part of the tasks of authors. Writing the text of questions ought to be. The questions files are plain text and require no knowledge of HTML with just a few exceptions (such as when the author wants to place explanations in the wording of a question). Only the following few guidelines should be followed.

Test questions types

0- multiple choice
For multiple choice questions, each possible answer must be preceded by a capital letter (A, B, C, D, E or F) followed by a dash "-" and a space, the type box must contain 0, and the answer box must contain the capital letter corresponding to the correct answer.
1- True or false
True or false questions are processed as multiple choice questions, but for consistency sake it is recommended that they start with True/false and the possible answers be:
A- true
B- false
C- no valid answer
True or false questions must have 1 in the type box and the letter corresponding to the correct answer in the answer box.
2- Fill-in

Fill-in questions can be written with a missing word marked by underlined spaces "_" (with a suggestion of using as many spaces as there are letters in the missing correct word or words), or it can be written in the form of a question without any actual space to fill. In both cases the student will have to type in his/her answer in a separate box. For fill-in questions, the author should enter 2 in the type box and the correct answer or answers which, as mentioned above, should be separated by commas with no space after the commas (the answer itself can nevertheless contain spaces). (Note that the test procedure will count answers as correct whether written in singular or plural, in capital letters or not, with or without currency sign, but not with articles preceding them.)

3- Calculation

Calculation questions are processed as either multiple choice (with A-, B-, C- or D- answers) or fill-in depending on how they are written. If they are written as multiple choice, the answer box must contain the capital letter corresponding to the correct answer. If they are written as fill-in, the answer must be a numerical value of the correct answer. Note that if the answer is a number that exceeds 1,000 it should be written without commas (e.g. $2,432,611 should be written as 2432611). Currency signs (such as $) are acceptable, but generally not necessary. The type box must contain 3.

4- Graph

Graph questions can give the choice of up to four graphs or images to be offered as possible answers. Following the text of the question, the possible answers contain nothing but the capital letters followed by a dash "-" (i.e. A-, B-, C- or D-). As for multiple choice and true or false questions, the answer box must have the capital letter of the correct answer. The graph box must contain the name of the graph or image files separated by a commas with no space after the commas. The type box must have the digit 4. (Note that multiple choice, true or false and fill-in questions may be based on a graph, image, audio, video or portion of text which appears in a window in the upper left corner of the screen when a question is asked, but in this case these questions are not graph questions.)

5- Essay

Essay questions contain text only and nothing in the answer box. The type is 5. These questions are not answered by students in a quiz. They can be present for review purpose.

Explanations in the body of a test question

In the text area of any of the questions, in addition to the text of the questions itself, short explanations can be entered by an author below the question itself and the possible answers, if any. If the explanations are to appear only after student's answer, the first character on the first line of the explanation (i.e. below the text and answers) should be a close square bracket "]". Then, the explanation will appear in a special window at the bottom of a student's screen just below the title of the concept only after the student answers the question. Such explanation can be most appropriate for giving the solution to a calculation question. If, on the contrary, the explanation are necessary to understand the question itself (such as in the case of definitions of variables in an equation, for instance), then the explanation need not have the bracket. Note that in that second case, the explanation will appear to the student in the box together with the question and its lay out is not HTML but exactly as written.

To assist in writing test questions and especially in entering the correct anchor, a list of anchors is shown and the entire text of the chapter, section or subsection appears below the question editing box. The anchor is highlighted in the text with bold and underlined fonts.


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