Reviewed: 06/12/2019

Advice for using individual question types

  • MCQs”, “Either/Or” and “True/False” – safe to use and can be automatically marked
  • Essay”, “File Response” (upload a file), and “Short Answer” – safe to use, but need to be marked manually.
  • Other questions types have minor issues or require a clear understanding before use, but could be used under guidance from the eLearning Team. See notes.

 

Question type Issues with this question type Recommended marking method
Calculated formula Moderate, see notes Automatic/Manual, see notes
Calculated numeric Moderate, see notes Automatic/Manual, see notes
Either/Or No issues Automatic
Essay Minor issues Manual
File response No issues Manual
Fill in multiple blanks No issues Automatic/manual, see notes
Fill in the blank (single) No issues Automatic/manual, see notes
Hot spot Minor, see notes Automatic, see notes
Jumbled sentence Minor, see notes Automatic, see notes
Matching Moderate, see notes Automatic, see notes
Multiple answer Minor, see notes Automatic, see notes
Multiple choice No issues Automatic
Opinion scale/Likert No issues Automatic, see notes
Ordering Minor, see notes Automatic, see notes
Quiz bowl No issues Manual, see notes
Short answer Minor issues Manual
True/False No issues Automatic

 

  • Calculated formula
    This question type will enable students to answer a question by giving a numeric answer based on a calculation. You would set a question with a number of variables and set a formula for Blackboard to calculate the answer based on the variables. You can specify an acceptable answer range.

    • Use this one if the answer is required as a numeric answer calculated from a formula with randomised parameters
    • Staff can input the answer as a formula but students cannot
    • Partial credit is supported (precision to 5 d.p.) and marks can be awarded for units
    • Scientific notation is possible, but should not be used as many of the possible formats of notation are not recognised.
    • Units cannot be marked correct if the answer value is wrong, and are marked as incorrect if space is present between the numerical answer and the units
    • Complex marking options, the chosen method must be clearly explained to students
    • Automatically marked, but may need manual marking intervention
    • Recommendation: use with care. Questions which require or may attract scientific notation should be accompanied with careful documentation.
  • Calculated numeric
    This question should be used when you wish to ask a question that has a numeric answer. This question is similar to a fill in the blank question however only accepts numeric answers, and enables you to identify an answer range that would be acceptable, unlike fill in the blank or short answer which will only accept exact matches to the answer you set as correct.

    • Use for numeric answers (system rounds to 5 d.p.)
    • Scientific notation is possible, but should not be used as many of the possible formats of notation are not recognised
    • Can mark correct if answer is within a specified range
    • Cannot include units or have partial marks (just full marks) for answers that are within a range
    • If including units, answers submitted with a space between the numeric value and the units are marked as incorrect
    • Automatically marked but can be manually overwritten
    • Recommendation: use with care. Questions which require or may attract scientific notation should be accompanied with careful documentation.
  • Either/or
    These questions should be used if you wish to only have 2 pre-defined choices for your answer. They are similar to multiple choice in the way they display, however the answer options are limited. These are quicker to set up than MCQ as you do not need to type in the answer options, just select from a drop down.

    • Two options – limited to Yes/No, agree/disagree, true/false, right/wrong
    • Automatically marked but can be manually overwritten
  • Essay
    This question should be used if you want students to enter a long, free text answer to your question.

    • Students given large box to type a long free text answer
    • Can provide an example correct answer for the marker only
    • Requires manual marking
    • Due to the University Central Authentication System (CAS) timeout of 60 minutes affecting auto-saving and page timeout in Blackboard (asuumed 30 minutes), it is advisable to tell the students to save the question regularly (perhaps after every few sentences), or type (and save in case of issues) their response into a plain text document and copy across to Blackboard. It is not a good idea to copy and paste from Microsoft Word as this brings word formatting into Blackboard and can have an effect on how it displays to staff for marking.
  • File response
    This question type should be used if you require students to submit a file that they have created on their computer. The file gets attached to the question for submission.

    • Requires students to upload a file such as a PowerPoint, word, zip, and many more
    • Useful for submitting diagrams, graphs, images, or other non-text responses
    • Requires manual marking
  • Fill in multiple blanks
    This question should be used if you wish to have a piece of text with several (up to 10) missing words for the students to fill in. For example you may wish to present a question and model answer with the key words left blank for the students to fill in.

    • Students are asked to fill in one or more blank boxes within a paragraph
    • Responses are marked using exact matches, so spelling mistakes result in mark loss. You can select to use the ‘contains’ or ‘pattern match’ options to increase the possibility of Blackboard being able to automatically mark a variety of answers.
    • Spelling mistakes incur mark loss and therefore it is advisable to provide the students with a glossary of correct words and distractors so they can copy and paste. Alternatively advise the students that incorrect spellings will be penalised.
    • Automatically marked. Care needs to be taken that you have anticipated all possible correct answers, although additional correct answers can be added following student submission, with questions remarked automatically.
  • Fill in the blank (single)
    This question type should be used when you wish to have a single omitted word within a statement for the student to fill in.

    • Students are asked to fill in one blank box to complete a statement.
    • Marking scheme is as Fill in Multiple Blanks, above.
  • Hot spot
    This question type allows you to ask students to click on an image to identify a particular item. When the student clicks on an area of the image, a marker is placed to identify where they clicked.

    • A single rectangular target area is placed on an image by question setter, students must click an area within the hotspot to get a correct answer
    • Note that there is a small error when setting the target area. This is around 3 pixels which could result in the student’s response being marked incorrectly. Where very accurate responses are required, it is recommended that you do not use this question type.
    • Automatically marked, but can be manually re-marked
  • Jumbled sentence
    This question should be used if you wish to provide students with a sentence or paragraph in which there are one or more blanks that the student is required to fill in by selecting a word from a drop down list.

    • Answer options can be used more than once within a sentence
    • Can provide additional distracters
    • Limit on 100 options within each Jumbled Sentence, so the total number of unique answers plus the number of distractors can not exceed 100. Split long Jumbled Sentence questions in to multiple ones to avoid this.
    • Need to avoid sentences where answers could be interchangeable and still be correct as you can only specify the correct answers one way around
    • Partial credit supported, does not negative mark, marking scheme is very restrictive
    • The students can pick the same option from the drop down menu multiple times
    • Recommend, provided caution is taken when writing questions.
  • Matching
    This question can be used if you want students to match items, for example words to definitions, a diagram labelled with letters to the appropriate options, etc.
    • Answer can be used more than once. If multiple statements require the same answer, it should only appear once in the list of options to avoid being marked as incorrect (BB9 marks according to option ID not text)
    • Can provide additional distracters
    • Can have partial marking.
    • A button exists to distribute partial credit equally between sections of the question
    • Negative marking is possible
    • Recommendation: use with caution.
  • Multiple answer
    This question should be used if you wish students to select multiple correct options from a list of given answers.

    • Partial credit supported, and customisable negative marking possible
    • Automatically marked, but can be automatically or manually re-marked
    • Recommendation: inform students how the marking system works before they take the test.
  • Multiple choice
    This question should be used if you wish students to select a single correct option from a list of given answers.

    • Negative marking possible
    • Recommended, automatically marked, but can be automatically or manually re-marked
  • Opinion scale/Likert
    This question type should be used if you wish to have an opinion scale in your question. This question is pre-loaded with answer options, however these can be altered. Most commonly used in surveys.

    • Automatically marked
    • Partial credit supported
    • 2-100 option choices
    • Able to input your own options
    • Recommended for surveys
  • Ordering
    You should use this question type if you wish Students to put a list of items in the correct order.

    • Partial credit supported, not negatively marked
    • Can have 2-100 items
    • The items stay in the display order you specify, the students then put numbers by them to indicate the correct order
    • The students can pick the same number from the drop down menu multiple times
  • Quiz bowl
    This type of question allows you to provide a statement to which the students have to answer in the form of a question.

    • Can have 1-100 interrogatives and 1-100 answer phrases
    • Requires an exact match to the question or manual marking
    • May be very difficult to predict every possible way a question may be asked
    • Partial credit supported: complex rules, should be clearly explained to students
    • Recommendation: do not use unless happy to manual mark
  • Short answer
    This question should be used if you wish to provide one or more text boxes for the students to answer a question.

    • Answer box should allow you to specify 1-6 lines of free text however regardless of what you specify, the text box is a set size and can be expanded, therefore it is not possible to limit how much the students write.
    • Require manual marking
    • No option for standard feedback, need to do individually.
  • True/False
    This question should be used if you wish to provide a statement and the student indicates if the statement is true or false.

    • Student can answer true or false to a question
    • Automatically marked, can be manually over-written

‘Needs Marking’

Some student submissions will have the status ‘needs marking’ represented in the Grade Centre as an exclamation mark in a green circle. This indicates that manual intervention is required for one of a number of reasons. The two main reasons why this would happen is where a manually marked question type (essay, short text and file response) has been used or when the time recorded for a student has exceeded the time allocated by at least 60 seconds for the assessment.

When marking multiple submissions are identified as needing marking, it is useful to use the ‘Save and Next’ button to move from one submission to the next. However, this will only work if a mark is changed in a submission. If no mark is changed, clicking ‘save and next’ will not remove the ‘needs marking’ status, it will simply move on to the next submission. Instead, you should use the ‘Save and Exit’ button which will modify the status from ‘needs marking’ and award the correct mark in the Grade Centre.

Note: When ‘save and next’ or ‘save and exit’ are pressed, this erroneously changes the submission time for a student’s work to the time that the marker pressed the button. Please ignore the submission time that is displayed after ‘save and next’ or ‘save and exit’ are pressed.

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Choosing your Question Types