Adding Activities

How to add activities into your OER on OpenLearn Create

Activities, such as forums, quizzes and wikis enable interactive content to be added to the course.

6. Quiz

6.2. Writing random variant questions

Your quiz could be 5 questions long and if the learner fails their first attempt and reattempts it they will encounter the same 5 questions.  This will make it much easier for them to answer the quiz correctly the second time around, especially if there are not many choices of correct answers or if the quiz has a high proportion of Yes/No questions, which usually makes a very poor quiz.

Random variant questions can be used to make the quiz just as difficult to answer in subsequent attempts as the first attempt.  You can ask the same question but have a different selection of correct and incorrect answers each time the learner re-attempts the quiz.

Write a question and compile a list of correct and incorrect answers to the question.  Incorrect responses can be quite hard to write without being obviously incorrect or silly.  Then select a few correct and a few incorrect answers for each random variant of the question.

For example, you have a total of 10 correct and 8 incorrect responses to your question:

Table 1 correct and incorrect responses for your question

Correct Incorrect
Correct 1
Correct 2
Correct 3
Correct 4
Correct 5
Correct 6
Correct 7
Correct 8
Correct 9
Correct 10  
Incorrect 1
Incorrect 2
Incorrect 3
Incorrect 4
Incorrect 5
Incorrect 6
Incorrect 7
Incorrect 8



For Q1a (the first random variant) select 5 correct and 3 incorrect responses, for Q1b select a different 5 correct and 3 incorrect responses and for Q1c select 5 correct and 3 incorrect responses which are a different combination from the other two options:

Table 2 Question variants

Q1a Q1b Q1c
Correct 1
Correct 2
Correct 3
Correct 4
Correct 5

Incorrect 1  
Incorrect 2
Incorrect 3
Correct 6
Correct 7
Correct 8
Correct 9
Correct 10

Incorrect 4  
Incorrect 5
Incorrect 6
Correct 4
Correct 5
Correct 6
Correct 7
Correct 8

Incorrect 1
Incorrect 7
Incorrect 8

You will need to review the combinations of answers you’ve selected for each random variant version, as some might not work well together and could make the question unexpectedly easy to answer by a process of elimination.  Your incorrect answers need to be good distractors to make the learner really think about the question properly.

Your original quiz could therefore actually be a quiz of 5 questions each of which has some random variant options, it doesn’t have to be the same number of random variants for each question, for example this combination is a total of 14 random variant questions for the 5 actual questions:

Question 1a
Question 1b
Question 1c

Question 2a
Question 2b

Question 3a
Question 3b
Question 3c

Question 4a
Question 4b
Question 4c
Question 4d

Question 5a
Question 5b

Every time the learner attempts the quiz a different random variant for each question will come up, this will result in many combinations of the quiz before they encounter exactly the same set of questions they saw the first, second or third time.  Inevitably they will see some of the same as before after 3 tries.  You can increase the number of combinations of the quiz each time by having 4 random variants for some questions.  You will increase the number of combinations even further if you have more than 5 questions in your quiz.