Guidelines for simple Moodle Quiz Questions using the GIFT format

The GIFT format is a format for making quiz questions for Moodle as a .txt file (in UTF8 format) and uploading them to Moodle instead of creating the questions one by one in Moodle. Using a question format like this is faster and it does not require teacher access to Moodle to make the questions (although only a teacher or administrator can import the questions to Moodle). The thing to understand about a format is that it makes question creation easy, provided that the layout of the format is observed rigorously, i.e. the text elements like questions, statements and answers can be freely edited, but the layout should remain the same for all the questions. Even a small change in layout will disable the question.

Example:

The capital of Finland is Helsinki.{TRUE}

will create a true-false question (in which the correct answer is ”True”) and

The capital of Finland is Rovaniemi.{FALSE}

will create a a true-false question (in which the correct answer is ”False”), but

The capital of Finland is Helsinki.{True}

will result in an error message because the layout is wrong.

When making questions with the GIFT format, it is therefore advisable to copy and paste existing questions and simply replace the text elements to create new questions. In the GIFT format questions are separated by a single blank line. You should use separate .txt files for different question types, since it is recommended to create text files containing only one question type (this creates option for creating a question pool made up of different question categories filled with questions of the same type and value from which a Moodle quiz can randomly draw a specified number. The GIFT layout for true-false questions was given above. The layout for multiple-choice questions is given below:

What is the capital of Finland?{=Helsinki ~Rovaniemi ~Tampere }

The answer preceded by ”=” is the correct answer and the ones preceded by ”~” are incorrect alternatives. The correct answer can always be in the first position, because in the Moodle quiz the answers will be automatically shuffled by default. To create a new multiple-choice question, you would copy the string and replace the parts highlighted in blue, as long as the layout remains the same, you can repeat this process to create as many questions as you need.

General Guidelines for Quiz Questions

There are general rules when creating quiz questions. You should, for example, avoid negative questions (i.e. ask ”What is the capital of Finland?” and do not ask ”What is not the capital of Finland?”) and above all avoid to have positive-negative combinations (i.e. ”A is B” and ”A is not B”) in the same quiz. Just imagine what students will think when they get the following questions:

The capital of Finland is Helsinki.
True False

The capital of Finland is not Helsinki.
True False

These two questions exclude each other. If the first statement is true, the second is by definition false and vice versa. Therefore, in general, do not create negative statements/questions unless it cannot be avoided.

In multiple-choice questions you should, moreover, make sure to have reasonable alternative answers. This means that if students do not know the answer to the question, they cannot easily guess the correct alternative. For example,

What is the capital of Finland?{=Helsinki ~Rovaniemi ~Tampere }

is a reasonable question (although three answers is really the minimum; it is better to have four answers), because all alternative answers are Finnish cities, and this question

What is the capital of Finland?{=Helsinki ~Stockholm ~Oslo ~Copenhagen }

is a reasonable question, because all alternatives are capital cities in the North of Europe. However, this question

What is the capital of Finland?{=Helsinki ~Train ~Boat ~Motorcar }

is useless, because the alternatives are of different classes. This question does not test whether the students know what the capital of Finland is, but whether they know the difference between a city and different modes of transport. The correct question to go with these answers would be ”Which of the following is NOT a mode of transport?”, but remember, we do not want negative questions and, apart from that, the answer would still be far too obvious.

In addition, the answers to multiple-choice questions should be of somewhat similar length, so as not to tempt the students to pick the longest answer as the most likely. For example,

What is the capital of Finland?{=Helsinki, which was created the capital of Finland by Russia in 1812 ~Rovaniemi ~Tampere }

Would tempt students to select Helsinki, even if they did not know that Helsinki is the capital and likewise

What is the capital of Finland?{=Helsinki ~Rovaniemi, the home of Santa Claus ~Tampere }

would tempt students who do not know the answer to the question to select Rovaniemi (in this case the incorrect answer).

Furthermore, you should not create trick questions like

Which is the slowest land mammal?{=hare ~snail ~tortoise ~dolphin }

The above question contains in fact two tricks: the fact that the slowest animals listed in the answers are not mammals and that the slowest mammal in the list is not a land mammal. This is again an example of a question in which some of the answer alternatives are of different classes than the one in the question.

Finally, it is good to remember that these are just simple question format examples. There are more question types available in GIFT format and even more in Moodle at large. If you would want to create another type of question than the two described above, e.g. a multiple choice question with more than one correct answer, for instance, contact the eLearning Services at eoppimispalvelut@lapinamk.fi for instructions and template files to use as a starting point.

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