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Teach Feast 2014: Assessments December 5, 2014

Posted by aquillam in teaching.
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On Nov 21, the Friday before Thanksgiving, the Teaching and Technology Collaborative (TeachTech) hosted a one day series of workshops. These are my notes on the sessions I attended.

This session provided a brief overview of some of the alternatives to CTools for student assessment. It covered Google Forms, Qualtrics, and Canvas quizzes. There is a comparison chart at the end.

Google Forms

All faculty and students have a Google Drive account, so you can be sure you and your students have access. You can force survey participants to login, collect use names, and tie it to class lists, so it’s easy to restrict who sees it and ensure you know who responded. There are also anonymous options for polling. You can even add a drive folder to your CTools site (but that means everyone in your CTools site will be able to access the results!).
There are multiple options for display, including emailing it, providing a link to the form on the web, or embedding it in CTools (very handy for LessonBuilder.)
Creation is very easy, and the interface is easy to use. However, it is a basic form: no branching based on responses, no
Grading can be prohibitive unless your class is small, or you are clever with analysis software. Responses are recoded in a Google sheet, which you can export as a csv and analyze/grade using other software like Excel or Mathmatica.


Everyone at the university can create a Qualtrics account for free. You can force participants to log in through Cosign, collect usernames, and do anonymous polls. It can be tied to a class list. It is possible to embed a survey in CTools, but that function is still in pilot mode, and we experienced some load problems with only a dozen simtaneous users. They have only just started on the Canvas interface, but it should be coming.

The interface is not quick and easy to use, buts it’s not terribly difficult either. There are a lot of options for everything, but the interface is well laid out and clear.

Qualtrics offers a lot of options for everything. There are many different question types, and many options within question types. You can embed short videos, images, animations, and other objects within both the questions and answer. There are also non-question objects. Objects can be grouped, and each group can be displayed on a separate page. You can also create triggers, so the next thing the respondent sees can be determined by their answer. For example, you can have an introduction screen, then a screen with a video, then a question. If the student gets the answer right, the survey ends. If they get it wrong, you can open up a new set of questions to guide them to the correct answer.

Probably the best thing about Qualtircs is that it can grade for you. The software is designed to enable quick processing of surveys with a large respondent group, which means it needs a mathematical way to represent responses (think about the results from teaching evaluations). However, instead of giving a scale of 1 – 5, you can give each response a different point value, so you can have a correct answer worth 1 point, and all the other worth 0, or you can do 2 points for the best answer, one for the good distractors, and 0 for the throwaway. Text based questions will have to be hand graded. At this time, you have to download the results, process the file, and upload it to the gradebook.


There will be a separate post about this, so I’ll keep it short here.
The website is umich.instructure.com/

Canvas is a Leaning Management System, so it is a replacement for CTools, including Assignments and Test Center. It also has (or will have) plugins for other systems, including Google and Qualtrics.

Canvas considers all scored items “Assignments”, and all assignments go to the gradebook. In CTools, you can create “tests” that aren’t sent to the gradebook, like a practice exam, but the students can try it and see how they do. You can also create an assignment that requires the student to do something, but becomes part of another item, like requiring an idea, outline, and rough draft for a project, but only the final score actually gets sent to the gradebook. Canvas won’t allow that.

For added security, you can “Require access code”, which is essentially a password for the assignment. You can also set an IP, so you could make them use a specific computer or set of computers.

Comparing the Options

Google Qualtrics Qualtrics in CTools Canvas
Authenticated/user name collected
Anonymous no not sure
Auto Grading no no some
Uses class rosters no no
uses MCommunity groups not sure not sure not sure
can embed in email no not sure
flexible format/ triggers no some


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