Visualising grades: An interesting idea from the Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail ran what looked like a genre piece this morning about badly-written and hard-to-understand report cards–an annual rite it seems to me. But it ended with a side bar that I found quite thought-provoking: what a better-designed report card might look like:

The Globe and Mail’s proposal for a more visual report card.

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Organising Quizzes in Moodle 2.0

Moodle 2.0 allows designers to divide questions into pages. But while this introduces great flexibility, it can be quite a cumbersome system to use at first. Here’s a method for making it more efficient.

Differences between Moodle and Blackboard/WebCT short answer questions

There is an important difference between Moodle and Blackboard (WebCT) short answer questions that instructors should be aware of, namely that Moodle short answer questions allow only one answer field.

Multiple Choice Questions in Moodle

Here are some tips for the composition of Multiple Choice Questions in Moodle.

How to build a randomised essay/translation question in Moodle 2.0

In my courses I often use a question of the following format:
  1. Common introduction
  2. Two or more sample passages or questions requiring an essay response
  3. A common form field for the answer to the student’s choice from #2.
The point of this format is to provide the student with a choice of topics. If students all write their essays or translations at the same time, you can build your choice of topics by hand and write them into a single question. The challenge comes if you want to be able to allow your students to write the test asynchronously, as is common with Learning Management Software. In such cases you want to be able to draw your essay topics or translation passages randomly from a test bank. Read the rest of this entry »

Manual Grading of All Questions in Moodle 2.0

Manually grading in Moodle 2.0 seems to be causing many faculty members at the U of L trouble. Here’s how to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

Digital Plagiarism

I have recently started using plagiarism detection software. Not so much for the ability to detect plagiarism as for the essay submission- and grading- management capabilities it offered. But the system was, of course, originally designed to detect plagiarism—which means that I too can use it to check my students’ originality. To the extent that one semesters’ data is a sufficient sample, my preliminary conclusions are that the problem of plagiarism, at least in my classes, seems to be more-or-less as insignificant as I thought it was when I graded by hand, and that my old method of discovering plagiarism (looking into things when a paper didn’t seem quite “right”) seemed to work.1 This past semester, I caught two people plagiarising. But neither of them had particularly high unoriginality scores: in both cases, I discovered the plagiarism after something in their essays seemed strange to me and caused me to go through originality reports turnitin provides on each essay more carefully. I then went through the reports for every essay submitted by that class (a total of almost 200), to see if I had missed any essays that turnitin’s reports suggested might be plagiarised. None of the others showed the same kind of suspicious content that had led me to suspect the two I caught. So for me, at least, the “sniff test” remains apparently reliable. Read the rest of this entry »

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