Before my father went into computer sales, he taught math for five years. (Coincidentally, he taught at my old high school, although before I was born. And even more coincidentally, one of his students later became my math teacher.) Dad patiently tutored me through four years of high school math and one semester of college calculus, so I can attest to his excellent teaching skills. We were discussing teaching and teacher preparation programs once, and he told me that the most useful course he took in graduate school was a course on how to write an effective test.

This got me thinking. I taught high school for two years and hadn't a clue how to write a good test. You might be wondering, "Didn't they teach you that in graduate school?" Well, not really. We covered many theoretical aspects of assessment, such as the need to connect formative and summative assessment to standards, but we never got down to the nitty-gritty issues, such as how to construct a good multiple-choice question.

This module is a good opportunity, I think, for us to balance technology with instructional theory. Part of this module is simply geared toward helping you learn how to create quizzes and quiz questions in Moodle. There are so many types of quiz questions that I only focused on three that I thought were straightforward and easy to learn. You can read about every single possible type of quiz question, though, on moodle.org.

The other part of this module addresses that elusive skill that my father learned: how to write a good test. For those of you doing credit-track, I've included resources on unwrapping standards, developing a test blueprint, and a review of Bloom's Taxonomy, which can be helpful in constructing test questions. For everyone, though, I've included a couple articles that I like because they are so practical. For example, the article by Derek Cheung and Robert Bucat about writing multiple-choice tests is full of concrete examples that demonstrate poorly written and well-written multiple choice items. They're probably things you already know how to do, but haven't seen articulated in writing very often.

One final note: there is a brief quiz at the end of this module, but it is open-note, and in reference to an article included in the module. I just wanted you to experience a quiz from a student's point of view, as I think it's always helpful to have examples.
Last modified: Thursday, 22 December 2011, 2:58 PM