Modules for Assessing Students in Moodle


Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Over 60 simple and incredibly effective recipes for harnessing the power of the best Moodle modules to create effective online learning sites

  • Packed with recipes to help you get the most out of Moodle modules
  • Improve education outcomes by situating learning in a real-world context using Moodle
  • Organize your content and customize your courses
  • Reviews of the best Moodle modules—out of the available 600 modules
  • Installation and configuration guides
  • Written in a conversational and easy-to-follow manner
        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)

Involving students in assessment design

Who said writing questions was the teacher's job? For students, the challenge of creating questions encourages them to think in a new and different way about the material they are studying. The incentive of being able to create questions that may be used in their own future assessment is also a thrill.

  • Question Creation module

Extending quizzes

Like many parts of Moodle, the Quiz module is extensible. New question types can be added to the Quiz module so that teachers can produce more creative questions and challenge learners from a wider range.

  • Drag-and-drop matching question type
  • Drag-and-drop ordering question type
  • Image target question type

Simple formative feedback

Students are motivated to earn marks, but that doesn't mean you can't sneak in a bit of formative assessment without them realizing it. Simply encouraging students to anticipate small snippets of the material can probe their knowledge, reinforcing their correct understandings and challenging their misunderstandings.

  • Hidden Text filter

Encouraging competition

It is a disservice to delude students into believing that they standout when they are in fact falling behind. Displaying the highest standard for assignments and other assessable items on a leader-board can motivate students to compete, while recognizing those who are excelling.

  • Course Results block

Allowing students to contribute to assessment

Name Question Creation Module
Module type Activity
Author Jamie Pratt
Released 2008
Maintained Actively
Languages English, Spanish
Compliance Good
Documentation Limited online documentation, help files
Errors Some errors displayed when error reporting is turned on

The Question Creation Module allows students to contribute Quiz questions and be rewarded with marks. This is a great pedagogical activity and the questions produced by students can be used in creative ways.

Getting ready

Unzip and copy the module directory into the /moodle/mod/ directory then visit the Notifications page.

How to do it...

After adding the Question Creation Module you can create an instance of this activity from the Add an activity... menu.

The configuration page for this module is somewhat overcomplicated, however, once you have used it, the settings become apparent.

(Move the mouse over the image to enlarge.)

Like most modules, there is a Name. There is also a description that appears as an Introduction to students in their view of the activity. A time period for the activity can be specified with an opening and closing date.

In the Grading section, there are a number of options, some of which are obvious and some that require explanation. A Question Creation activity can contribute to a course assessment and as such there is a Grade value. This grade value is constituted from a mix of:

  • Automatic grading (based on number of questions created by a student, that is, a participation mark)
  • Manual grading (based on a judgment of quality by the teacher

A 50%/50% mix means that the student gains half the available marks by simply creating the required number of questions and the other half based on the judgment of the teacher. A different ratio can be chose to shift this balance depending on the teacher's preference. For a fully automated assessment, a ratio of 100%/0% can be used. For a grade that is wholly based on the teacher's judgment a ratio of 0%/100% can be used.

The number of questions that need to be created can be specified. The grade value is then distributed across this number of questions.

The types of Quiz questions can be restricted to specific types or students can be allowed to create questions of any type. The teacher can direct that the student create a minimum number of questions of specified question types. For example, the teacher could direct that two of the questions that a student creates should be Multiple Choice. Such enforcement is achieved in the sections labeled (rather incomprehensibly) as Will Grade Minimum Number of Questions of Type (optional).

At the bottom of the configuration page, there is a setting that controls what level of editing students have over their own questions.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

It is not clear at first what each level of access means, nor why access needs to be restricted. Students can be controlled in their freedom to create, preview, edit, and delete questions. The module author suggests that there may be complications if a student edits a question after it has been graded, although he also suggests that students could improve questions based on feedback and such questions could then be re-graded (and the module facilitates this). For the most intuitive setup for students, the highest level of access is probably best. The teacher could then grade the questions after a set deadline. In a two phased approach that allows questions to be improved, questions could be checked at a specified date, with final question edits required by the set deadline.

Students have an interface to launch the question creation process. When a question type is selected, students then create a question of that type using the same interface that a teacher uses when they create questions for a quiz.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Students can create more than the required number of questions. Their final mark is based on the best questions they have created.

Questions created by students appear in a list much like an assignments submission table.

In this view, a teacher can preview a question and grade it. They can also provide comments on each question. The final grade is calculated when the teacher clicks the button at the bottom of this page labeled Save all grades & feedback. Grades are calculated according to how many of the required questions a student has created and the quality of each question. The student's final grade is the calculated value across all of their questions.

How it works...

Questions created by students are stored in the Moodle Question Bank. In that form they can be used by teachers in the course like any other question in the Question Bank.

There's more...

Requiring students to create questions is a great learning exercise. It forces students to think about the course materials at a higher level in order to form questions that someone else will find challenging.

The real possibilities of this activity fall not in what the students can create, but in what the teacher can do with the questions that students have made. Here are some ideas:

  • Using the best questions for regular quizzes (keeping in mind that at least one student will already know the answer)
  • Using the best questions for quizzes for a successive cohort
  • Using student created questions as the basis for a final exam
        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)

Getting more out of quizzes

Name Drag-and-drop matching question type,
Drag-and-drop ordering question type,
Image target question type
Module type Question type
Author Adriane Boyd
Released 2007
Maintained Actively
Languages English, German, Japanese, Russian
Compliance Good
Documentation Design documentation, readme.txt file
Errors None displayed

Automated assessment can be used to complement other assessment mechanisms, or in some cases, to replace it entirely. Moodle offers the Quiz module for automated assessment and quizzes can contain a variety of different types of questions. In line with Moodle's principle of modularity, it is possible to add new question types to this mix. Here are a few good examples.

Getting ready

Unzip and copy the question type directories into the /moodle/question/type/ directory, then visit the Notifications page.

How to do it...

You can add questions directly to the question bank to be added to quizzes later, or you can add questions as you are developing a quiz. To create questions in the question bank, click on Questions in the Administration block on a course page.

In the question bank, you can add new questions by selecting a question type from the list labeled Create new question.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The Drag-and-drop matching question type is an extension of the regular matching question type. It relies on JavaScript to allow students to drag together matching items, but falls back to the functionality of the regular matching question if JavaScript is not turned on. It is a pretty safe bet that you can rely on students having JavaScript turned on, so it is likely they will get the most out of this question type.

Selecting Drag-and-Drop Matching from the Create a new question menu will launch the creation of a new question of this type. All question types have the same General settings.

Enter a name for the question and the question text, then scroll down.

For a Drag-and-drop matching question, you must supply at least three pairings. The nomenclature for pairings is slightly odd. Each pairing is grouped as Question 1, Question 2, and so on:

For each pairing there is a Question and an Answer. When the question is displayed, the list of Question text labels will appear on the left and the matching Answer text labels will appear, in shuffled order, on the right. Adding a pairing without a Question label adds an Answer label that will not be matched. This is useful for adding distracters to the quiz question.

The Drag-and-drop ordering question type allows questions to be created that require students to put a list of items into the correct order.

Selecting Ordering from the Create a new question menu will launch the creation of a new question of this type. Again there are general settings that must be entered. Add a question name. You may also want to add question text that gives the context of the items and prompts the user to reorder the items.

Below the general settings, the items to be ordered need to be specified. The items should be entered in the correct order; they will be shuffled each time the question appears to a student.

There is also an option to Display the items horizontally. With this option checked, the items will appear side-by-side, which would be appropriate for a short list of items with brief labels. Leaving this option unchecked causes the items to appear in a vertical list.

The Image target question type allows the teacher to upload an image containing areas that can be identified. The student must drag a target onto the correct area (or one of a number of specified areas) to answer the question correctly.

Before adding an Image target question, you should upload an image to the course files area. Click on Files in the course Administration area. In Files, click on the button labeled Upload a file and you will be presented with a form containing a file browse box. Click Browse and a file dialog box will appear. Locate the image file (it should have a .jpg extension) and select it. Back at the Upload a file form, click on the button labeled Upload this file and, after the file is uploaded, it should appear in the files area. With the file in place, you can then create an Image Target question that makes use of it.

Selecting Image Target from the Create a new question menu will launch the creation of a new question of this type. In the General settings, add a question name and question text that prompts the user to drag the target onto the identifiable item.

Below the general settings, there is a drop-down list labeled Question image. Opening the list will reveal the images in the course directory that can be selected. Select the image you have uploaded and click on Insert image to specify answer.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The page will reload and the chosen image will appear.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

You must now specify the area within the image that, if identified by the student, will be seen as a correct answer. On top of the image there is a semi-transparent mask and within this there is a resizable area. The area can be moved by clicking and dragging it. It can also be resized by dragging the handles around the edges of the image. It is possible to add more target areas if needed.

How it works...

The Drag-and-drop matching question type provides a far more intuitive interface for identifying matches, compared to the regular matching interface. This would be particularly useful for assessing younger students.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

To answer the question, a student must drag the options from the right on to the target locations on the left, next to the appropriate label. Students can drag questions off the targets or replace answers with another.

Answer correctness is not displayed in the teacher preview of the question, but it does appear when a student answers the quiz.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

A Drag-and-drop order question appears with the items appearing in shuffled order. The student must drag items to their correct position. When an item is moved, other items make way by moving around it. The end result is a very intuitive way of ordering items.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The Image target question type appears with the question text above an image, and a crosshair target to the left.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The student must drag the target onto the image, within the designated area in order to achieve a correct answer.

There's more...

These new question types open up a number of new teaching applications. The Drag-and-drop matching question could be used for:

  • Matching injuries to first-aid treatments
  • Matching inventors to their inventions
  • Matching sports stars to their sports or movie stars to their movies

Drag-and-drop order questions could be used with information that falls into a sequence.

  • Ordering the atomic mass of particles
  • Ordering steps in biological process
  • Ordering statements in a computer program so it will produce a correct output

The Image target question type can be used to ask students to locate items visually.

  • Identifying locations on a map
  • Identifying specific people in a group photograph
  • Playing "Where's Wally"/"Where's Waldo", perhaps adapted to a particular teaching context, for example, "Where's Einstein"

Giving immediate formative feedback

Name Hidden Text
Module type Filter
Author Dmitry Pupinin
Released 2008
Maintained Limited
Languages English, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Russian
Compliance Good
Documentation Online documentation
Errors None displayed

The main aim of assessment is to encourage student learning. Not all assessment needs to be worth marks and not all assessment needs to be large scale. The Hidden Text filter allows hidden text to be included in and around a Moodle site. This can be used to prompt students to anticipate answers and then reveal them to confirm their suspicions and reinforce their learning.

Getting ready

Unzip and copy the hiddentext directory into the /moodle/filter/ directory then navigate to Site Administration | Modules | Filters | Manage Filters and click on the eye icon in the row labeled Hiddentext.

How to do it...

With the filter in place, text can be marked as hidden text by placing filter tags around it. In a WYSIWYG editor [span] and [div] tags can be used. A [span] tag can be used within a sentence and a [div] tag hides a section of a paragraph or more.

If you wanted to ask a question and temporarily hide the answer you could write content as follows:

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Before the hidden content there is a filter tag:

[span filter="hidden text"]

The end of the hidden content is followed by a closing filter tag:


When the text is parsed by the filter, the hidden text is replaced by an eye icon.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Clicking on the icon reveals the hidden text.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Clicking the icon again re-hides the content.

The icon itself is meaningful, but not necessarily intuitive. It is possible to add a label to accompany the icon. This is achieved by adding a desc attribute to the initial filter tag.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The label is then rendered next to the icon as follows.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

How it works...

The Hidden Text filter uses the YUI library to hide and reveal text. This is how it achieves a fade effect.

There's more...

The Hidden Text filter is not limited to questions and answers. It can be used to hide content of any kind. Here are some applications:

  • Hiding additional information that, if shown in the original view, might overcomplicate the content for most readers
  • Inserting links that do not distract from the flow of the content, but can be revealed if needed
  • Placing "Easter eggs" or secret information around the site to encourage students to explore

Recognizing high performers

Name Course Results
Module type Block
Author Vlas Voloshin
Released 2009
Maintained Limited
Languages English, Russian
Compliance Good
Documentation readme.txt file
Errors None displayed

There's something to be said about a little competition to motivate students. Informing students about the top performers in a course, allows them to have an accurate understanding of their success in the course. The Course Results block allows a teacher to show the best (and worst) results from any marked activity within a course, or category grades, or even the course total.

Getting ready

Unzip and copy the block directory into the /moodle/blocks/ directory then visit the Notifications page.

How to do it...

In the Blocks list, the Course Results block is listed as Results. When a block is initially added it will present a message encouraging you to update it.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Clicking on the configuration icon takes you to the configuration page.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The first choice you need to make is the grade item you want to display in the Course Results block. If you want to show the overall course results, you can choose Course Total. You need to specify a number of highest or lowest results; you can't leave both of these as zero. Unless you are a ruthless teacher, unafraid of litigation, you would not want to reveal the identity of your poorest performing students, so you will more than likely want to set a number for the highest results.

You can choose if names and pictures are shown with results. Result values can be given as percentages, fractions (for example, 80/100) or as numeric marks.

The block title can be set, which allows you to have multiple blocks for different results. You can also provide text to appear before and after the results list.

How it works...

The block shows the top results in a table.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The table updates automatically based on the latest results each time the page is loaded.


In this article, we took a look at the following assessment modules:

  • Involving students in assessment design
  • Extending quizzes
  • Simple formative feedback
  • Encouraging competition

Further resources on this subject:


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