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dgrilley
Community Participant

What is the relationship between questions in a quiz and a question bank?

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In the quizzes tool, I am using question banks to store and organize questions for quizzes that randomly select a question from each bank.  I have added the questions using the "Find Questions" dialog so that the questions are listed in each question group.  If I edit the question in the quiz, I note that the question in the question bank is not updated.  Likewise, editing the question in the question bank does not update the quiz.  This is true even if the quiz is not published.  Nor does a question update if the question bank is "linked".  What do I need to do to get the updates that were applied to a question to propagate to a quiz (if applied to a question bank) or to the question bank (if applied to a quiz)?  The apparent lack of syncing between the two is a real problem.  This all led me to my topic question, what is the relationship between question in a quiz and those in what I assumed was the underlying question bank?

The relationship for quizzes.next appears to be somewhat documented (How do I edit an item bank item in Quizzes.Next?‌).  I don't see similar documentation for quizzes.

1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
James
Community Champion

 @dgrilley ,

Here is the relationship in legacy Quizzes (not Quizzes.Next).

Creating Questions

When you add a question to a quiz, it adds it to a question bank called "Unfiled Questions" when the question is saved the first time. Updates to the question in the quiz do not update the version in the "Unfiled Questions" question bank.

Find Questions

If you use "Find Questions," you are taking a copy of the question from the question bank as it currently exists and inserting it into your quiz. Anything you do is then done to the copy and is not reflected in the original question in the question bank. This allows people to modify questions without modifying the original question in the bank. When you copy content to use it again (say to reuse a course), it keeps the version that is in the quiz.

If you want to modify the original, which resides inside the question bank, then you need to edit the question inside the question bank. Changes made to the original are not propagated to the duplicate copy that you made when you inserted the question into the quiz.

In simpler terms, if you find a question from a bank and change it and want the change to be used in the future, then you need to change it in two places.

Alternatively, you can delete it from the quiz, change in in the bank, and then reinsert it to the quiz. If you have already given the quiz to students, then you should not do this.

Linked Banks

When you link to a bank, you are not adding the question to the quiz. The questions are pulled from the question bank at the time that the quiz is delivered to the student.

Whatever is in the bank at that time is used. Updates to questions in the bank before a student starts a quiz will be reflected if the student is given that question. If a student starts taking a quiz and then you change the question in the bank, it is not changed for the student.

Personal Comments

I almost never use questions that are linked to a bank, preferring the find questions approach instead.

  • You cannot regrade linked questions, only questions that are inserted into the quiz.
  • There is no real good support in Canvas for getting questions out of a bank. You can export a quiz but not a bank. There are no API calls for question banks, but a lot of quizzes and questions.

If I was dealing with questions that had been curated and double checked, I might consider linking, but still probably not due to the analysis issues and getting the questions out easily. The process is clunky when you're the creator and sole user of the question bank, but I understand why there's a separation of question banks and quiz questions.

That's kind of a non-issue since I write my own questions and they're not perfect and occasionally need changed. What I end up doing most of the time is not using banks at all and deleting the "Unfiled Questions" once I've got the course done. Then I only have one version of the question, the one inside the quiz, to worry about.

There are some benefits to linking, such as only having one copy of the question to maintain or the ability to reuse questions on another quiz such as a midterm or final.

I don't reuse my questions in different quizzes, but there is a process for doing this if you need to. You can convert a bank to a quiz by creating a quiz with every question from the bank and you can convert a quiz to a bank by exporting it and importing it back. Neither of these is straightforward, but the processes are documented by users in the community.

The most unreasonable advice I can give is to only use questions that are perfect the first time and never edit them once they are created. However, that's the way in which Canvas works the best.

View solution in original post

6 Replies
James
Community Champion

 @dgrilley ,

Here is the relationship in legacy Quizzes (not Quizzes.Next).

Creating Questions

When you add a question to a quiz, it adds it to a question bank called "Unfiled Questions" when the question is saved the first time. Updates to the question in the quiz do not update the version in the "Unfiled Questions" question bank.

Find Questions

If you use "Find Questions," you are taking a copy of the question from the question bank as it currently exists and inserting it into your quiz. Anything you do is then done to the copy and is not reflected in the original question in the question bank. This allows people to modify questions without modifying the original question in the bank. When you copy content to use it again (say to reuse a course), it keeps the version that is in the quiz.

If you want to modify the original, which resides inside the question bank, then you need to edit the question inside the question bank. Changes made to the original are not propagated to the duplicate copy that you made when you inserted the question into the quiz.

In simpler terms, if you find a question from a bank and change it and want the change to be used in the future, then you need to change it in two places.

Alternatively, you can delete it from the quiz, change in in the bank, and then reinsert it to the quiz. If you have already given the quiz to students, then you should not do this.

Linked Banks

When you link to a bank, you are not adding the question to the quiz. The questions are pulled from the question bank at the time that the quiz is delivered to the student.

Whatever is in the bank at that time is used. Updates to questions in the bank before a student starts a quiz will be reflected if the student is given that question. If a student starts taking a quiz and then you change the question in the bank, it is not changed for the student.

Personal Comments

I almost never use questions that are linked to a bank, preferring the find questions approach instead.

  • You cannot regrade linked questions, only questions that are inserted into the quiz.
  • There is no real good support in Canvas for getting questions out of a bank. You can export a quiz but not a bank. There are no API calls for question banks, but a lot of quizzes and questions.

If I was dealing with questions that had been curated and double checked, I might consider linking, but still probably not due to the analysis issues and getting the questions out easily. The process is clunky when you're the creator and sole user of the question bank, but I understand why there's a separation of question banks and quiz questions.

That's kind of a non-issue since I write my own questions and they're not perfect and occasionally need changed. What I end up doing most of the time is not using banks at all and deleting the "Unfiled Questions" once I've got the course done. Then I only have one version of the question, the one inside the quiz, to worry about.

There are some benefits to linking, such as only having one copy of the question to maintain or the ability to reuse questions on another quiz such as a midterm or final.

I don't reuse my questions in different quizzes, but there is a process for doing this if you need to. You can convert a bank to a quiz by creating a quiz with every question from the bank and you can convert a quiz to a bank by exporting it and importing it back. Neither of these is straightforward, but the processes are documented by users in the community.

The most unreasonable advice I can give is to only use questions that are perfect the first time and never edit them once they are created. However, that's the way in which Canvas works the best.

View solution in original post

dgrilley
Community Participant

James,

This is an incredibly clear description of what is happening.  I tend to disagree with how Canvas has implemented this, as I often find myself in situations where I need to reuse questions from question banks.  I'll hope that they provide the option to mirror the changes at some point.  Regardless, thank you for the very detailed reply.


Dan

dgrilley
Community Participant

James,


Given your statements above, how do you feel about the item banks as implemented in quizzes.next?  They would go against your personal comments in that they are 1) linked and 2) use an all/none approach.  Any sense of what you will be doing to generate random selections of questions in the quizzes.next environment?


Dan

James
Community Champion

I don't feel anything about item banks in Quizzes.Next.

We haven't turned on Quizzes.Next for our institution, feeling it's not up to where it needs to be to adopt (it's getting closer). I've only played with it a couple of times in our beta instance, trying to answer questions for people in the community. I've helped people get stuff into Quizzes.Next, just to find out that there was an easier way. But I've never done anything with it for myself or tried to use the banks.

As such, all of the comments I've made in this thread deal with the way Canvas acts with Quizzes and should not be in anyway extended to Quizzes.Next.

In general, Canvas improves things. We may not always see that right away, but they usually think hard about things before implementing them. I expect that Quizzes.Next, and handling of banks, will be better than it is now. I will also say that Canvas publicly states that they do things in stages, getting something out there, letting people use it, and iterating and making improvements based on data. That means that some things don't have all of the bells and whistles at the start. I imagine that question banks in Quizzes.Next are one of those things.

There is a Quizzes.Next group here in the Community. You may want to join it if you are going to use Quizzes.Next.

dgrilley
Community Participant

Understood!  

Our entire institution is making the transition to Canvas.  In addition, our institution has turned quizzes.next on.  This has led to frustration in trying to navigate both a new LMS and in choosing between two different tools.  Your institutions approach is probably more measured and potentially easier to navigate.

Thank you for providing the context of how Canvas goes through the update process.  From the sounds of it, you have been working in Canvas for many years and are happy with how they do things.

James
Community Champion

From the sounds of it, you have been working in Canvas for many years and are happy with how they do things.


I started in Fall 2012 as the first person at our institution to use Canvas. I hadn't used an LMS before then, writing my own stuff, so I didn't have any preconceptions about how it should work based off the way the other system worked. Canvas isn't perfect, but the students and faculty always give it high scores in an annual survey we give.

I'm usually okay with how things progress, but sometimes wish things would happen at a faster pace. On the other hand, I'm glad they don't make wholesale changes each month because there would be a lot to relearn and test. This way, it's a bunch of incremental changes rather than complete overhauls. In general, I'm very happy with Canvas.

There are sticking points and if I focused on single issues rather than the entire package, I might have to downgrade my "very happy." I've even made a name by writing scripts to help ease people's pain (Canvancements - Canvas Enhancements ) and Canvas highlighted me in a keynote session last week at InstructureCon for the contributions I've made. When I started, I was naive to think that everything I wrote should be part of Canvas. Now I understand better that some things will never be inside Canvas and that's actually a good thing. I deliver mediocre that tries to work around many nuisances, while Canvas normally waits and does it the right way (or they don't do it at all).

I don't have a problem calling them out publicly when they do something wrong. My thinker side is much stronger than my feeler side, so I try to look at all sides of an issue before condemning. I am willing to accept that my use case is fringe and Canvas targets the middle, much larger group, of users. Then I look at how to make Canvas do what I want it to do or I change my approach to match theirs, which has more research behind it than mine does and makes for a better experience for the students.