Moodle 1.9 Math Quizzes: Part 2

Ian Wild

November 2009

Adding a math quiz

Once we've added a question or two to the question bank, we can add a quiz to our course. I want a simple quiz where each student is allowed one attempt with no help along the way. Let's see how to achieve this now:

  1. Return to your course's front page, choose a topic, click on the Add an activity drop-down menu, and select Quiz from the list.
  2. Give the quiz a name (this will appear on the course's front page) and, if you wish, you can specify a short introduction:

  3. Scroll down to the Attempts box. Set Attempts allowed to 1 and Adaptive mode to No:

  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click the Save and display button. A split screen page is displayed with the course question bank on the right and the (currently empty) quiz on the left:

  5. To add questions from the question bank to the quiz, simply select them and click on the Add to quiz button:

  6. The questions are now added to the quiz. You'll now see them listed on the left-hand side of the page:

  7. To preview the quiz, click on the Preview tab at the top of the page:

  8. That's it! The quiz is now configured.

Recall that I set Adaptive mode to No. Adaptive mode adds a Submit button to each question, allowing students (with some suitable feedback from me) to learn from their mistakes as they work through the quiz. Try experimenting with this setting. See how your students behave with the Submit button. For example, don't let them think that they can guess a multiple choice answer until they eventually get it right. Remind them that they'll be penalized for each wrong answer.

Encouraging students as they attempt the quiz

You've seen that there are a lot of settings I've simply ignored as I've configured this quiz. Return to your course's front page, and click on Questions from the course administration block to open the course Question bank. Click on the edit icon next to the numerical question we configured earlier in this article. (Have you spotted that you can tell what type of question it is from the icon on the far-right? Hover the mouse pointer over the icon.):

Remember how I mentioned that I'd started filling out feedback? I'm going to finish doing that now in this question by giving some General feedback:

When you are happy with your feedback, remember to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Save changes button. Now, return to your course's front page, turn editing on, and click on the update icon next to the quiz we added in the previous section:

On the quiz configuration page, scroll down to the Attempts section and set Adaptive mode to Yes:

Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on the Save changes button.

Preview the quiz now, and notice that under each question there is a Submit button. Experiment with entering both correct and incorrect responses. Click on the Submit button, and see how Moodle reacts by giving the student our feedback. Remember: if you are planning to use Adaptive mode, then it's worth reminding your students that they will be penalized if they get an answer wrong!

Reporting quiz results

What's great about a Moodle quiz is the detailed reporting Moodle provides for us. Here is an example of the report page for my quiz once a student has attempted it. (In fact, this is a colleague of mine helping me to check that my feedback is understandable!):

Such reporting not only allows us to see what our students have been up to, but I also find it an invaluable tool for determining the success of my teaching.

Once someone has attempted your quiz, you can no longer modify it (add or remove questions). You will need to delete the attempts to unlock the quiz.

The Feedback module

Monitoring the success of your teaching

Having a course question bank means it's easy for me to reuse questions. I often start and end a Moodle course with a short quiz (the same questions before they start and after they have completed the course). I need to check that they don't know less than when they started!

We ended the previous section thinking about how to use a Moodle quiz to monitor the success of your teaching. You can indeed use a Moodle quiz to gather this kind of data if you wish for feedback or perhaps even for a data handling exercise. For example, the Pythagorean Theorem is used by builders to ensure that each corner of a room is a right-angle. I've asked my students to measure the lengths of a room at home, and we'll check in class to see if the corner of the room is, in fact, a right-angle!

Moodle 1.9 Math

In the previous screenshot, you can see a preview of the essay question I initially used to gather that data. The main problem with using a Moodle quiz to gather data is that it isn't really the right tool for the job. The answers to the quiz questions are either right, wrong, or somewhere in between, and this doesn't apply if we simply want to gather data. So, rather than using a quiz to gather this information, I've asked my Moodle administrator to install the Feedback module.

Check out the Ask the admin section at the end of this article for more information on getting the Feedback module installed on your system.

Gathering Feedback

Let's see how easy it is to use the Feedback module to gather data from our students.

Configuring a Feedback activity

The first step is to add a feedback activity to our courses. Then, we need to configure it:

  1. Return to your course's front page, turn on the editing, choose a topic, click on the Add an activity drop-down menu, and select Feedback from the list:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  2. Give your new feedback activity a name and provide a description:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  3. Now, select your feedback options. I want to know who has supplied what data, so I'm going to Record user names:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  4. If you wish, you can provide extra information (or just a simple thank you) after a student has completed the feedback form:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the Save and display button. Click on the Edit questions tab at the top of the page:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  6. We can now start to add questions to the feedback form. I'm going to include six Numeric answer questions, asking for the lengths of A,B,C,D,E, and F to correspond with the labels in my room plan diagram. Select Numeric answer from the list of question types:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  7. Complete the necessary options:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  8. Repeat this process for each length:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  9. When you are finished, return to your course's front page using the breadcrumbs across the top of the page. And that's it! We're finished configuring the feedback form.

View your students' responses by clicking on the Show Responses tab. Note that under the Analysis tab, you've got the option to export responses to Excel (either to store them elsewhere or to analyze them further).

Feedback example: Create a departmental survey

Do you need to survey your students at the end of the academic year to see what they thought of your teaching? The Feedback module provides the ideal answer. Requesting feedback online means no more working your way through piles of paper.

If you want to take a straw poll, then take a look at the Choice activity at

System for Teaching and Assessment using a Computer algebra Kernel (STACK)

For my more advanced students, I have a set of Pythagorean Theorem questions where the lengths of sides are algebraic expressions, rather than just numbers. My students need to demonstrate their aptitude with quadratic expressions.

For example, they should be able to expand (x+4)(x-3).

The solution to this problem is usually written as x2+x-12. But what if the students entered x-12+x2 ? Would Moodle still mark this answer as correct?

At the very least, we need a question type that understands the commutative, associative, and distributive properties. The solution is provided by a Computer Algebra System (CAS). For a general background on computer algebra systems, refer to

STACK is a Computer Aided Assessment (CAA) system that overcomes these kinds of mathematical problems. STACK is the brainchild of Chris Sangwin; for more details on STACK, check out the STACK documentation at For more information on the STACK philosophy, read a target="blank" href="">

In the next section, I will provide you with an introduction to STACK and demonstrate how to create a couple of basic questions.

System requirements

At the time of writing, STACK (version 2) requires the following two extra components to be installed on your server:

You will find full details on how to install both Maxima and GNUPLOT at the web addresses given in the table.

Moodle requirements

Ensure you have installed and enabled a Moodle filter for converting LaTeX to mathematical notation. If you're still not sure,then check out both the Moodle docs ( the Mathematics Tools forum ( on

Part of the STACK installation process requires you to install a new question type. Don't worry! Everything you need is contained in the STACK distribution files.

Installing STACK

Once your server is configured correctly with all of the relevant software, then you will need to install STACK.

Rather than repeating what is eloquently described online, I'm going to refer you to, where the process is described in detail.

Here's what you get once STACK is installed:

  • A new block, allowing you to control the STACK system directly from Moodle:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

  • A new question type, Opaque:

    Moodle 1.9 Math

Let's learn how to create quiz questions using STACK.

>> Continue Reading Moodle 1.9 Math Quizzes: Part 3


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