Step 2: Creating Questions

Before you start this section, ensure that you are currently working inside a question pool (as detailed in Step 1). You may find this section easier if you have already created your questions and have them available to you in Notepad or TextEdit as .txt files (i.e. with no pre-existing formatting).

When creating questions you should consider the following:

How can you help to teach your students with your questions? Can you provide feedback that will help the students learn from their mistakes?

Could you create several versions of a similar question?

If so, then you can create question groups that allow you to distribute your questions giving each student a bespoke test. This:

  • decreases opportunities for cheating
  • can save you the need to create new quizzes each year
  • enables you to release revision versions of your tests which you can keep open until the end of the year.

Types of Questions

There are many question types in Blackboard; a full comparison of question types can be located here. However, we will discuss these in the training below too.

The most popular and easy-to-use question types in Blackboard Tests are:

  • Multiple Choice/Answer Questions (MCQ or MAQ)
  • Jumbled Sentence Questions
  • Fill in the Blank-style questions.

These questions have an added advantage in that they can be automatically marked by the system (with some exceptions for Fill in the Blanks).

Questions that evidence deeper learning/understanding are available, such as Short Answer Questions (SAQ) or Essay Questions. These question types require manual marking by a member of staff. Essay Questions in particular may benefit more from being run via Turnitin to ensure checking for plagiarism (not covered in this course).

Activity: Create a Multiple Choice Question

  1. Click “Create Question” and choose “Multiple Choice”.
  2. Add the question into the “Question Text” area, using the editing buttons if you need to.
  3. Scroll down and choose the number of answer options, then add the potential answers into “Answer 1”/”Answer 2” etc.
  4. If you have permitted “Feedback for Individual Answers” in your question Pool Settings, you will see a Feedback box for each Answer to add feedback.
  5. Ensure that the correct answer is ticked as correct.
  6. When happy, click “Submit”.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does “Partial Credit” work for this question type?

Allowing “Partial Credit” for a multiple choice question will switch on a % points box next to each answer. Here you can add partial marks for a question. For example in the following question you may give the following % of points:
What colour is the sky?:

  1. Blue: Correct
  2. Rainbow: 0
  3. Pink: 10% (e.g. Sunset/rise)
  4. Elephant: 0

How can I add negative marking?

To switch on the option for negative marking, you must first switch on “Partial Credit”. Once this setting is enabled you will see an “Allow Negative Scores” option box to tick. From here, provide a negative % score against the incorrect answers you wish to deduct marks for. For example:
What colour is the sky?:

  1. Blue: Correct
  2. Rainbow: 0
  3. Pink: 0 (e.g. Sunset/rise)
  4. Elephant: -20%

Why is there another “Feedback” section at the bottom?

MCQ questions give you the option for feedback against the answer that the student gave, however all question types include a general “feedback” option that relates to the entire question with little reference back to which option the student choose (except for generally correct or incorrect).

What’s the difference between Multiple Choice (MCQ) and Multiple Answer questions (MAQ)?

A Multiple Choice Question allows students to select one answer only. A Multiple Answer Question allows student to “tick all that apply”. When setting up, be sure to choose the right question type!

Are there any question types that I should avoid?

As with all systems, Blackboard is not immune to a few bugs. The university keeps a “known issues with assessments” list here: Blackboard Staff: Known issues with assessments, we advise reading it before choosing some of the more complex question types.

Click here for document (you should ensure you are already logged into the support portal before clicking this link

Helpful Tip!

Staff and student feedback has highlighted that it is very easy to get mixed up between Multiple Choice and Multiple Answer Questions. This happens because the setup is exactly the same for both, meaning that the first people to notice a problem are often our students!

During set up and testing there is a quick and easy way to see if you have chosen the correct question type. Simply look at the shape of the buttons your students are presented with:

○  Circular buttons (radio buttons) are for single choices, aka Multiple Choice Questions

□  Square buttons (tick boxes) are for choosing all that apply, aka Multiple Answer Questions

Fill in the Blank Question

A Fill in the Blank question consists of a phrase, sentence, or paragraph with a blank space where a student provides the missing word(s). They are graded automatically as long as you have provided all possible alternates for the potential answer. As an example, a question whose answer was “DNA” may need potential alternate answers of: DNA, dna, D.N.A., d.n.a., D-N-A, deoxyribonucleic acid etc. Should you miss a potential correct answer, you can add this in later if you have been alerted to it (for example when you are reviewing the marks). Other potential pitfalls include misspelled words, American spellings, etc.

Activity: Add a Fill in the Blank question

  1. From the Create Question menu, select Fill in the Blank.
  2. Type the Question Text.
  3. To add more than one answer, select from the Number of Answers menu.
  4. Type each answer and select Contains, Exact Match, or Pattern Match to specify how the answer is evaluated against a student’s answer. For Contains and Exact Match, select the Case Sensitive check box if you want to take capitalisation into account.
  5. Add feedback for correct and incorrect answers.
  6. Submit.

More Complex Question Types – Auto Marking

There are several more complex automatically graded question types in Blackboard. Several useful ones are listed below with links to instructions on how to make the questions. Please note this content is provided from Blackboard; please ignore information on “Ultra”. Additionally, any videos on these pages advise access via “tests” whereas test setup should be completed via “Pools”.

Activity: Important for Later

Create two questions in your pool, a “Fill in the Multiple Blanks” type question and a “Jumbled Sentence” question. For both questions, use the phrase “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” and replace/remove 3 of the words for students to fill in either “as blank” or with alternate options.

Helpful Tip

When creating jumbled sentence questions, you can add as many red herring options as you want! This way you can create a full bank of words that your students might choose.

Manually marked questions

If you want your students to answer questions with no pre-set answers then you will have to prepare to mark the students’ work. Adding these types of questions into a test can help students learn subjects in more depth than via simple MCQ-type questions.

These types of questions are often very easy to set up and here are some which we think work well:

It is important to note that if you choose these question types, your students will not receive any marks or feedback until you or your colleagues have finished marking.

Once you are happy that you have created several questions that you can work with (and two questions that mention that Quick Fox), go to the next page.