Category Archives: Numbas

Numbas material to aid the transition to university

Many subjects across the University are challenged by students who struggle with an unexpectedly high level of assumed mathematical proficiency in their courses. As part of an ULTSEC strategic project  this summer, we have aimed to tackle this problem by building a significant bank of formative mathematical tests which can be used both as a diagnostic tool and for student-led learning.

The material is largely drawn from the GCSE syllabus in mathematics, and is engaging and accessible for students, even outside of numerate disciplines.

Each question is randomised, making it perfect for practice, and has full solutions.

 

The material covers topics including: data collection and presentation, probability, statistics, units of measurement, area and volume, algebraic manipulation, sequences and many more. Each topic makes up a mini test with several questions.

A full list of topics can be found on the ASK website, one of the places where we are making the material available to students.

How do I give students access to the material?

Directing students to the ASK website is one possibility. Another is adding the material directly to Blackboard. Numbas embeds seamlessly into Blackboard and can also store student attempts. Adding a test is straightforward, simply select the Numbas – LTI option from the assessment menu, give the Blackboard item a name and then launch the Numbas tool. We have handily provided a menu of the tests on the right hand side of the tool, under “Select a ready-made exam”. The following video demonstrates the process of adding a test:

The settings for all of the tests are optimised for use as practice material. The students can regenerate questions to get new versions, change their answers as many times as they like and get full solutions. If you would like to customise the tests in any way then it is possible by using the Numbas editor. We can also help you to adapt material for your needs; don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require any assistance.

Thank you to our team of students and staff who have helped to develop the material, including undergraduate students Hannah Aldous, Bradley Bush, Stanislav Duris, Elliott Fletcher, Aiden McCall Lauren Richards and Maths Aid tutor Vicky Hall.

Adding a Numbas Test to Blackboard

To add a Numbas test to Blackboard, first create a test in the Numbas Editor (see this post). Next, download your test: from the sidebar of the test, choose the Download -> SCORM package option.

In your Blackboard course, go to the Assessments drop-down menu and select Numbas – LTI.

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You will be presented with some options, including a name and optional description. This is the information used to display the item in the Blackboard folder. Further down you will find some of the other standard Blackboard options such as display dates. There is no need to change any of the LTI configuration.

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After clicking on Submit and Launch you will be presented with the New Numbas activity page.

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Using Choose file, browse to your Numbas test, then click Submit. You will be taken to the dashboard of the test, which will display student attempts, once the test is up and running.

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Click the Test run button to preview your test. The dashboard will show attempts once students have accessed the material, and has options to do things like download scores. Clicking on the Blackboard link to the test will take instructors to this dashboard; students will be taken straight into the test itself, which you can preview using Blackboard’s standard Enter Student Preview button.


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Numbas is developed by the e-learning unit in the School of Mathematics & Statistics. If you have any questions or are interested in using Numbas in your course please Chris Graham at christopher.graham@ncl.ac.uk

Creating a Numbas Test

Tests are created in the Numbas Editor, which you can log in to with your University credentials.

Creating a New Test:

To create a test you do not necessarily need to write new questions. The Numbas Editor is also accessible to the wider community, and there are several thousand questions which have been licensed for re-use. The simplest way to create a test is to browse the Numbas Editor and  fill up a basket of existing questions. Refer to the Numbas documentation  for details, which will walk you through the process of finding and collating questions into a test.

An excellent place to start is the Content created by Newcastle University project on the editor, which contains material developed by the e-learning unit in the School of Mathematics & Statistics.

Creating New Questions:

You may well wish to add your own questions to your test. Here is a short video which describes how to create your first (very simple) question:

Of course Numbas is capable of creating very sophisticated questions and we recommend consulting the Numbas documentation for more information.

Once you have a test, you can find out how to add your Numbas test to Blackboard


 

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Numbas is developed by the e-learning unit in the School of Mathematics & Statistics. If you have any questions or are interested in using Numbas in your course please Chris Graham at christopher.graham@ncl.ac.uk

 

About Numbas

Numbas is a web-based assessment system with an emphasis on mathematics. It helps users to build sophisticated online tests suitable for numerate disciplines, including support for interactive graphs, statistical functions and the assessment of algebraic expressions.

Suitable for both practice and in-course assessment, Numbas tests integrate seamlessly with Blackboard, returning marks to Grade Center and offering the opportunity to download scores and reports directly from the tool.

Numbas is used in a wide range of subject areas here at Newcastle University, including accounting, biomedical sciences, engineering, physics and psychology. It is also used to deliver online support material in the ASK Academic Skills Kit.

 

Developed here at Newcastle University by the  School of Mathematics & Statistics e-learning unit, Numbas is an open source project with users and partners around the world. More information can be found on the Numbas public website.

The Numbas section of the LTDS blog is in its infancy, however the team is very happy to answer any queries: numbas@ncl.ac.uk.