Category Archives: 1. Getting started

Other online assessment and feedback tools

There are a range of online assessment and feedback tools that may be better suited to your needs (and those of your students).

Group Work

  • WebPA allows students to assess each others contribution to group work. Contact OLAF Admin.

Essays

Turnitin now provides tools for giving students feedback and facilitating Peer feedback on written work in addition to plagiarism checking:

  • Turnitin Feedback Studio – Mark essays and access feedback online. Includes reusable comments and marking Rubrics.
  • PeerMark – Allows students to score and review the work of their peers.

Maths, Statistics and other disciplines

NUMBAs – Whilst some mathematical testing is possible though Blackboard, NUMBAs, developed by the School of Mathematics and Statistics here at Newcastle, offers more sophisticated assessment. It is used by several schools across the institution. See also http://numbas.mathcentre.ac.uk/

Negative Marking

It is possible to use negative marking through Blackboard. Before deciding to use negative marking you need to:

  • Consider whether negative marking tests student’s strategy to risk taking rather than their knowledge of your subject. See Times Higher Education article.
  • Read up on the literature that suggests there may be a gender bias. Example study. 

If you decide you are going to use negative marking you should:

  • Ensure your students are fully aware of the marking and the consequences of guessing. Ideally, they will have experienced a negatively marked practice exam.
  • Understand that the negative marking is not part of our conversion process from a Word document through Respondus. We will work with you to set up the negative marking the first time you use it. You will need to allow us more time to set this up. We will ask you to then amend the online version of the exam in future years, rather than start from a Word document.

Randomised tests

On request, we can randomise the order in which the questions in an OLAF exam appear to students. This can be:

  • Completely randomised. Students would see the test in an entirely different order.
  • Randomised in sections. For example, there might be a section on Marx followed by a section on Hegel. Students would see the sections in the same order, but questions within each section in a different order

Randomising the questions makes checking the exam before it takes place trickier. You might need to allow extra set up time if using this option.

How could Respondus help you to run online exams and tests?

Learning and Teaching Development Service’s Rebecca Gill answers your questions about making this software work for you….

1) What is Respondus for?

Respondus is a piece of software that can be used with Blackboard to help set up online tests or exams. It is widely used by the Online Assessment and Feedback (OLAF) Service, and it can also be very useful to academic and professional services staff who are running their own formative or summative online tests.

2) How might staff be able to use it?

The software converts test questions written in Microsoft Word into Blackboard test questions. Respondus allows staff to quickly and easily create large sets of questions, to build exams or question pools in Blackboard. It works with a range of question types, including multiple choice, multiple answer, matching, jumbled sentence and fill in the blanks questions. Respondus can also be used to download exams from Blackboard to create a Word version, with or without answers.

3) How might it benefit students?

Respondus makes it easy to create large sets of questions in Blackboard, which means that as well as building summative assessments, staff can more easily create practice tests for their students to use in revision. It also has the option to add feedback for correct and incorrect answers to each question, making it easier for staff to provide detailed feedback on exams – this is particularly useful for large group teaching, because the amount of time needed to add the feedback is the same whether you are setting an exam for 20 or 200 students.

4) How might it benefit staff?

Respondus can help save time when setting up Blackboard tests, and streamlines the process of deploying a test with required settings. The ability to download Blackboard tests to Word means that you can edit existing test questions in Word and easily reimport them to Blackboard. Once you have set up a series of test questions they can easily be edited and reused in future years.

The software can also be used to create a paper version of a test without answers, which is a helpful backup if any students have problems logging in when you are running an online test or exam. Some Schools also use Respondus to download a copy of Blackboard test questions with answers, so that it can easily be made available to the external examiner(s).

5) How can I start using Respondus?

Book a workshop on using Respondus to create Blackboard tests.

6) What will the workshops do?

The workshop starts by introducing Blackboard tests and question pools. You will then learn how to create exam questions in Microsoft Word using Respondus format, and will practice importing the questions into Respondus, and uploading them to Blackboard to create a test or question pool. The workshop will also cover using test settings to control availability, question display, and releasing scores and feedback to students. Finally you’ll practice downloading tests from Blackboard to create a copy in Word.

7) Who might/should be interested?

Any member of academic or professional services staff who is responsible for creating Blackboard tests/exams, and would like to learn how Respondus can help. The workshops are suitable for anyone who has general experience of Blackboard.

 

Respondus – software for converting tests to and from Microsoft Word

About Respondus

We now have a site licence for Respondus. This allows you to:

  • Download tests to print (with and without an answer key)
  • Convert correctly formatted Word documents to online test format
  • Create tests offline
  • Deployment to one or multiple courses
  • Download tests from publishers signed up to the test bank network

Installing and Activating Respondus

  1. Get in touch with your computing officer to arrange for installation. They should also provide the required account information and  password.
  2. When you first run Respondus, you will be prompted to enter the information.
  3. The info you need to get started is
    Institution Name:   Newcastle University
    Local Support Contact(s):  Malcolm Creen, e-mail: malcolm.creen@ncl.ac.uk; Marc Bennett, e-mail: marc.bennett@ncl.ac.uk
    The installation  password (which your IT officer should provide. We cannot publicise it through this blog)

Connecting to a server

The first time you download or upload questions, you will need to set up the connection with the server From the Publish wizard:

  1. Choose ‘Add new server’
  2. Select ‘Check for predefined settings
  3. Enter your Blackboard user id and password
  4. Do not check the box to ‘Test the connection‘ as this does not always work (even when the settings are correct)

If you have any problems, ensure that the box in the settings called ‘Login Page’ says ‘relogin’ rather than login at the end, eg “/webapps/logon/?action=relogin”

Help and Guides

Demonstration Movies – Short demonstration movies are available at: http://www.respondus.com/products/respondus/demos.shtml . A full-length training video is available at http://respondus.com/products/respondus/training.shtml . These are great resources for introducing and training instructors on Respondus 4.0.

Quick Start Guide – A Quick Start Guide for Respondus 4.0 is available for download from www.respondus.com/quickstart . This Quick Start Guide is 3 pages in length and contains the essential information for getting started with Respondus 4.0.

User Guide – If you prefer a printed user guide, go to http://www.respondus.com/products/userguide.shtml . These user guides are provided in MS Word format so that institutions can easily edit/add information that pertains to their institution.

Online Help – Online help is available from within the Respondus 4.0 application. Context-sensitive help is available by pressing the F1 key. Or, go to Help > Help Topics to access the main help system.

Respondus Test Bank Network –The test banks are in a ready-to-use format and can be accessed with Respondus 4.0 for free by instructors who adopt a participating textbook.  More information is available at http://www.respondus.com/testbank .

 

 

 

 

 

Process

  1. If you are delivering a paper-based multiple choice or closed answer exam contact LTDS to discuss how it could work online. We provide support in getting your questions into Blackboard and advice on writing questions that test higher order learning outcomes.
  2. If provided in the correct format, we can convert exam papers from Microsoft Word or a text file and upload them to Blackboard.
  3. All OLAF exams should be run through Student Progress (Exams) who coordinate the booking, timetabling, invigilation and contingency planning.  You will be provided with the link to an online form that you will need to complete to provide details of your requirements for the exam.
  4. Once the exam is added to the module, we will ask you to check that the questions and answers are accurate, including checking the student view of the exam.
  5. The exams office and LTDS will ensure the settings for Blackboard exams are correct in advance.
  6. The exam is run in a centrally supported PC cluster with trained invigilators and computer officers.
  7. You can access marks immediately after the exam and you may choose to let your students see them.