Your first questions

1 Writing good questions and feedback

Start by recognising that writing questions that explore students’ understanding of their subject is a skilled activity. Add in writing feedback that enables students who respond incorrectly to correct their misunderstanding and the task grows … but so does the student engagement.

So on a pedagogic level good questions:

  • Embrace the patience of computers in helping students establish the basic knowledge on which understanding can be built. For example before conversing in a foreign language it is essential to have a vocabulary.
  • Test understanding not simply recall.
  • Are presented in an engaging fashion, are written well, utilise different question types, include images and are laid out well. Please be aware that there is an ebb and flow to dialogue between student and computer in interactive questions that often requires a different writing style to that used in non-interactive texts.
  • For formative assessment are preferably answered one by one with instant feedback. This arrangement encourages students to engage with the question and the feedback c.f. submitting say 25 responses at once where the student's eye goes straight to their overall score.
  • Include targeted feedback for common mistakes that enable students to correct their misunderstanding.
  • Give all students the correct final answer with reasoning.

It is necessary to differentiate the task of creating the question, response matching and feedback from the task of entering it into the computer. Just because Moodle provides forms which make it easy to enter certain question types into the computer, it does not follow that writing such questions is easy.

A Good question should be functionally correct:

  • The question must be appropriately phrased such that the required answer can be readily handled by a computer.
  • The question must be unambiguous.
  • The response must be marked accurately.
  • The feedback should reflect the marking.
  • Common mistakes should receive targeted feedback especially if the question is interactive and the student has another try; if there is a useful explanation in the main teaching materials held elsewhere online then reference that explanation.

2 Writing your first True/false question