4.3. Dynamic Questions

To support a model of writing and assessing using a question bank we have added new directives that allow you to select a question when the page is loaded. The simplest is to simply specify the id of a question you want inserted at any point in a book or an exam.

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If you list multiple questions as part of the :fromid: option a question will be selected at random when it is displayed to the student.

4.3.1. Using Dynamic Questions to secure Exams

Using the selectquestion directive has real benefits for writing a timed exam including:

  • Questions are not loaded into the page until the student sees the question for the first time. This prevents students from viewing the source to see the questions.

  • Using :fromid: question_1, question_2, ... you can provide multiple equivalent questions for each exam question making it more difficult for students to share answers.

There are several other options to the selectquestion that are designed to support automated exam creation, but they rely on the presence of a well developed and structured question bank. Something we would love to develop in Runestone, but have not yet completed.

  • :proficiency: - If you have a lot of questions and they are tagged with either :prim_comp: or :supp_comp: then the exam will choose a question at random from all questions in the question bank that are aimed at that particular proficiency.

  • :min_difficulty: - We have developed a way to automatically assign a level of difficulty to a question based on past students historical performance on the question. This allows you to include a question between a minimum and maximum difficulty level.

  • :max_difficulty:

  • :autogradable: – this ensures that Runestone only chooses a question that is automatically gradeable.

  • :not_seen_ever: – this ensures that Runestone selects a question that the student has not answered sometime in the past.

There is lots of research to do to see if this approach can actually work and produce exams that students will accept as fair. But it seems that for an online exam, generating a different (but equivalent) exam for every student could go a long way toward reducing cheating as well as saving instructors a lot of work.

    This is some question text.

    And this is more question text

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In the above timed exam the selectquestion was used to provide multiple options for each of the questions. This would mean that students would not all get exactly the same questions on their exam but rather randomly selected, yet equivalent problems for each question in the exam. Here is an example of how you can do that:

4.3.2. AB Experiments with Dynamic Questions

Using the :ab: <experimentid> option on selectquestion allows the system to assign a student to either the A or B group and then consistently choose the questions for that group for your student.

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4.3.3. Toggle Questions

Sometimes student struggle and fail with writing code from scratch. This component gives them a fallback so that if they cannot complete the code they can work on it as a parsons problem. In addition some students would really rather write the code themselves instead of doing a parsons problem.

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