How do I use the assessment/practice questions Text editor?

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With the assessment Text editor you can use a simple, text-based format to create questions. You can assign properties, like question type, by entering them above the question number. You can also use optional special codes that indicate question structures and advanced formatting.

In the following example:

  • MC: Indicates question type (multiple-choice) assigned as a property.
  • *c: Indicates the correct answer (c) with a code.
Type: MC
Label: A
1) What is the capital of Sweden?
a. Oslo
b. Helsinki
*c. Stockholm

You can preview your questions by switching to the Visual editor for individual questions or the Preview for the entire assessment.

Review code descriptions in the Formatting section here.


Building questions with the Text editor

The question Text editor format consists of five basic parts:

  1. Question type (required)
  2. General and type-specific question properties
  3. Question body (required)
  4. Feedback blocks
  5. Type-specific interaction and answer details (required for most questions)
Building questions with the Text editor

Question types

Buzz offers eight question types; each type has a specific interaction and specific answer details, and there are some properties that can only be applied to specific question types.

When creating a question in the Text editor, you enter the question type code property first, like this:

Type: MC

This table outlines the eight available question types and their corresponding codes.

Question type name Type code
Custom C
Essay E
Fill in the Blank F
Matching MT
Multiple Answer MA
Multiple Choice MC
Ordering O
Passage P

Question properties

General and type-specific question properties manage things like display preferences, the height of entry fields, ordering preferences, etc. All questions may have one or more properties in addition to their question type.

This section outlines some of the type-specific properties for each question type; the table at the end outlines all available properties.

Custom question properties

Custom questions must have the Custom property set (type: C). They can also include variables and question data.

Type: C
Custom: http://mywebserver/chess/question
Var: row = 0..7
Var: col = 0..7
Var: figure = queen,rook,bishop,knight
1) Indicate all valid locations that this piece can move to.
a. {Color1: Black, Color2: Red }

Essay question properties

Essay questions may specify Height, a Rubric, and an example answer to aid the grader.

Type: E
Height: 400
Rubric: Rubric1.xml
1) Retell the story of Tuffi the elephant.
a. On 21 July 1950 the circus director Franz Althoff had Tuffi, then 4 years old, take the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, as a marketing gag. The elephant apparently did not enjoy the ride, trumpeted wildly and ran through the wagon, broke through a window and fell some 12 meters down into the Wupper river, suffering only minor injuries. A panic had broken out in the wagon and some passengers were injured.

Fill in the Blank question properties

Create the blank for fill in the blank questions by adding 3 or more underscore characters (`___`). Use about as many characters as you expect the longest answer to be.

Type: F
1) The capital of Sweden, __________, is also known as Venice of the North.
a. Stockholm

You can specify a sub-type for the question to change how it is scored. This question uses the Match subtype to allow for ordering variations in the answer.

Type: F, Match
1) Factor out the expression `(a+b)^2` = ____________
a. a^2+2ab+b^2

Questions can contain multiple blanks, and a blank may have multiple correct answers, with some answers scoring different points.

By default, each blank is worth the same amount. For this question we award 6 points (.6 * 10) for the first blank, and 4 points for the second. In addition we award 5 points if the user uses the Swedish spelling for Helsinki.

Type: F, IgnoreCase
Score: 10
Options: Multiple
1) ____________ is the capital of Finland, and ___________ is the capital of Sweden.
[.6]a. Helsinki
[.5]   Helsingfors
[.4]b. Stockholm

Matching question properties

The matching question matches items from the left side to the right side. You can include additional distractors by leaving the left side empty.

Type: MT
1) Match the animals with their sounds.
a. dog = woof
b. cat = meow
c. bird = chirp
d. = moo

You can use the Inline option to display the right side as a drop down box. Note that HTML option tag does not allow formatting. Use Inline only with content without formatting.

In addition you can put the drop down boxes inside the body of the question by typing [----]. In that mode, the left side of the match is the order of the answer.

Type: MT
Options: Inline, MaintainOrder
1) Indicate the correct animal sounds:
The dog [----] chased the cat [----] that chased the bird [----].
a. 1 = woof
b. 3 = chirp
c. 2 = meow
d. = moo

Multiple Answer question properties

Multiple answer questions look very much like multiple choice questions, except the user can choose more than one correct answer. Therefore multiple answer questions may have a Partial score, but may not be displayed Inline.

Type: MA
Score: Partial
1) What are the principle outcomes from the Treaty of Westphalia?
a. Germany became a Roman Catholic country
b. Sweden lost the territory of Norway
*c. The concept of sovereign states, became central to international law
*d. [HTML]The principle of <em>cuius regio, eius religio</em>[/HTML]

Multiple Choice question properties

Multiple choice questions are the most common question type. Simple specify the correct choice with an asterisk (`*`). This questions uses the Label a to display the choices as a, b, c, etc. The x. in front of the last choice indicates that choice should stay in that position if the other choices are randomized. You can fix all choices by using the MaintainOrder` option.

Type: MC
Label: a
1) What is the capital of Sweden?
*a. Stockholm
b. Oslo
c. Helsinki
x. None of the above

You can easily create choice specific feedback by using @ on the row below the choice. This question displays the choices as a drop down box by using the Inline option and placing the box inside the question body with [----].

Type: MC
Options: Inline
1) The capital of Sweden is [----].
*a. Stockholm
@ That's correct.
b. Oslo
@ Oslo is the capital of Norway.
c. Helsinki
@ Helsinki is the capital of Finland.
x. None of the above

Ordering question properties

To specify the answer of an ordering question, put the correct position in front of the answer label.

Type: O
Options: MaintainOrder
1) Sort these US Presidents from earliest to latest
5_a. Barack Obama
3_b. Bill Clinton
4_c. George W. Bush
2_d. George H. W. Bush
1_e. Ronald Reagan

Passage properties

A passage is different than all other questions, as it does not have a point value, interaction, answer, or feedback.

Passages may use the Side options to display the passage to the side of the question. Use Single options to display one associated question at a time.

Type: P
Options: Side, Single
1). In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties...

Table of question properties

Property name Value Applies to Description
Type See above All Required property for question type.
Equivalent F Match equivalent function, for example a+b == b+a, a+a == 2a.
IgnoreCase F Ignore case on match Stockholm == stockholm.
Match F Match against normalized expression tree, for example a+b == b+a, a+a != 2a.
Number F Check answer within a numeric interval.
RegEx F Apply regular expression match.
Custom URL or Path All Use custom rendering for the question.
Figures number F,Number The number of significant figures the test taker should use.
Groups string All Comma separated list of groups.
Height number E The approximate height in pixels for the entry box.
Label 1, A, a, I MC, MA Label format for choices. Default is none.
Meta-NAME string All Specify the value of the meta information NAME. For example, specify the author as John Smith with `Meta-author: John Smith`
Objectives string All Comma separated list of the objective ids. The objective used must be specified in the course manifest.
Options Various Comma separated list of options as described below
Inline MC, MT Display choices inline as drop down selections.
MaintainOrder MC, MA, O Keep order of choices as defined in question.
Multiple F Fill in the blank question contains multiple answers.
ShowCorrect F Display correct answers for fill in the blank question.
Side P Display passage side by side with the associated questions.
Single P Display only one associated question at a time for a side by side passage question.
Workspace All except E, P Display an area for test takers to show their work.
Passage HREF All except P Question uses the passage specified here.
Rubric HREF E Question uses this rubric for grading.
Score Number All Number of points for this question. Default is assessment default.
Partial MA, MT, O Allow partial credit for question.
Round MA, MT, O If partial credit is given, round down to the nearest whole number.
ExtraCredit All Question counts as extra credit.
Var Range or List All Variable declaration, either as range or list, as specified below.
NAME = START..END[,STEP] All Define a range variable with inclusive start and end values. The default for step is 1.
[GROUP.]NAME = VALUE[,VALUE]+ All Define a list variable with optional group as a comma separated list.

Question body

The question body makes up the content of the question and any answer choices. Property indicators, formatting preferences, and other codes can be used throughout.


[**!!] All questions, choices, match, and feedback bodies, except when used in Inline mode, may consist of rich formatted text. In many cases you can use simple text. All text segments may exist of multiple lines, which are interpreted as <br /> tags for plain text. You do not need to encode <, >, or & symbols when using plain text.

Indent subsequent lines with 3 leading spaces. For example the question body:

1) You can create multi-line text segments.
   The characters <, >, and & do not need to be encoded.

Would generate this HTML:

<div>You can create multi-line text segments.<br />The characters &lt;, &gt;, and &amp; do not need to be encoded.</div>

4. Feedback blocks

Feedback can be added to any of the interactive question types. To add general question feedback to a question, start a new line with the @ sign immediately following the question body, like in this fill in the blank example:

Type: F
1) The capital of Sweden is _________.
@ The capital of Sweden is Stockholm
a. Stockholm

Feedback conditions

Feedback can be displayed only if a condition is established and met. Conditions are set up using a bracket-enclosed expression that can contain question variables, literals, and the pre-defined variables named score, teacher, answer, and answer# (for multiple-answer questions). When multiple feedback lines exist, only feedback from the first satisfied condition is displayed.

Type: F
Options: Number
Var: a = 3..9
2) 2 * $a$ = _____
@[teacher] This feedback is displayed only to teachers.
@[score>=1] This feedback is displayed only when the student's question score is greater than or equal to 1.
@[answer="2+$a$"] This feedback is displayed when the student added the numbers instead of multiplying them.
@ This feedback is displayed only if no other feedback has been displayed.
a. 2*$a$

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