From Question Banks to Item Banks

Community Coach
Community Coach

I started using online quizzes in my in-person classes as reading checks. I want my students to demonstrate they understand and know the material in the text. I usually make those quizzes due before we meet because my lectures tend to cover a topic with more depth than can be done in the text for a survey class. For my asynchronous online classes, I do something similar for the lecture recordings. Quizzes help my students confirm their understanding and teach me whether they have learned the things I want them to learn. 

The quizzes are more effective when each attempt presents a different set of questions, and with Canvas I use Question Banks to facilitate this. When my college switched to Canvas, I was pleased to learn that I could link a Question Bank to a Quiz. My previous LMSs had this feature, so I was able to continue my practice. If students see different questions on each attempt, their cognitive investment is increased and (I hope) they learn more.

In addition to teaching, I am the distance education coordinator for my college and hence help my colleagues use the available technology effectively. Using new tools in my classes helps me do better at that job, so my students get to be among the first at our college to use tools like New Quizzes. 

As I made this transition, I discovered how an unresolved issue with Classic Quizzes persists to New Quizzes. This challenges how I use Question Banks and I initially despaired that it would be a lot harder for me to advocate for New Quizzes. I found a workout and have successfully used New Quizzes for my lecture and reading checks the past few semesters. I dance with students on the bleeding edge of instructional technology, and so far I’ve saved my students from getting cut.

The problem that Classic Quizzes has with Question Banks is when they are linked to a Quiz (How do I create a quiz with a question group linked to a question bank?) and that Quiz is exported or included in a limited copy to another course. The linked Question Banks are not included in that export or limited copy, which makes an awkward realization when an instructor views the imported/copied quiz. It’s no surprise that this same thing happens when a Classic Quiz is migrated to a New Quiz. That Question Bank does not become an Item Bank, and the New Quiz created during migration misses those questions. Yikes!

I found a workaround that requires a bit of editing in the Classic Quiz before migration, and luckily it is easy if a bit tedious. Instead of a Question Group that is a link to a Question Bank, I copied the questions from the bank into a new group within the same Classic Quiz. Thus edited, the Classic Quiz migrated successfully to a New Quiz with a corresponding Item Bank. It works exactly as I expect, and the new Item Bank serves the same purpose as the Question Bank does for Classic Quizzes - changes I make will go into effect for any subsequent New Quiz attempts.

This change from a linked Question Bank to a Question Group was an unexpected task as I began to use New Quizzes, and I have included it in the professional development that I provide. That way my colleagues’ path will be a little less sharp than mine, and they can focus more on the improvements to the quizzing process that come with New Quizzes. The ease of extended time, sophisticated options for the fill in the blank, and variable points for multiple choice questions have all made the transition worthwhile for me and my students.

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