Canvas Quiz Functions

Canvas Quiz Functions

Locking questions

Q: When building quizzes in Canvas, it is possible to set it up so that the students see only one question at a time. What should I consider when determining whether to use this function, which means locking the question after it gets answered (so that students can't go back and check their answers)?

A: Before you decide whether or not to “lock questions” (i.e., prevent students from returning to a question and changing their response), first ask yourself: What is the purpose of this assessment? What are the stakes?

  • Key Considerations
  • If the purpose of locking questions is to give students practice with high-stakes assessments because they will encounter them in a "real-life" context outside of your class (i.e., GRE), then locking quiz questions on course-based quizzes makes sense. If that is the case, it’s important to explain your rationale to the students.

    If, however, the purpose is solely to assess students' mastery of one or more of the learning outcomes for the course, then the reasons for locking the questions may be less compelling.

Q2: When I talked with students about the possibility of using this type of function on the Canvas quizzes, the students seemed really anxious about the idea that they couldn't go back and check their answers, or skip a hard question and come back to it. Is there something I can do to help assuage their concerns?

A: If you do decide to lock the questions, explaining how you arrived at the decision could help mitigate students' anxiety. If they understand your rationale, students are much less likely to be resistant.

  • Key Considerations
  • Be very explicit about the format and content of the quiz, so that students know what to expect. For example: The first five questions are multiple choice, with four options, and address material we engaged with in week 1 of the course; the next four questions are true/false and address concepts from week 2; the last question is short answer, and it will ask you to apply concepts from the course text and the guest lecture.

    Lowering students' stress about the content and format of the quiz allows them more room to manage their anxiety around the process of the quiz. In general, being explicit is a good practice for assessments. The more we can lower students' cognitive and affective loads, the more likely they are to demonstrate their learning at their fullest capacity (cf., Swain, 1983 on “biasing for best”).

Q3: I had originally thought that using this function on Canvas quizzes might encourage more academic integrity, but then I realized that this function will not prevent a student from calling another student and checking on answers together. What else can I do to encourage academic integrity when using Canvas quizzes?

A: As noted, locking the questions is unlikely to prevent students from checking answers with others. However, we suggest that you might consider encouraging students to collaborate. Some tips for doing so are listed below.

  • Key Considerations
  • If your primary concern is that students might share answers, encourage students to complete the assessment with a classmate (or two), as long as they work within parameters you define and explain.

    Sample parameters: "You cannot collaborate with more than one classmate. You must name your classmate / collaborator. You both must agree to receive the same score on the assessment. You may not use outside sources (except each other). The student whose surname appears first alphabetically is the one who will submit the quiz on behalf of the partnership. 

    Require collaborators to sign an e-form, wherein they commit to your working within your preferred conditions.

    Cooperative quizzes mitigate many concerns about inappropriate collaboration with classmates -- because you have planned for a more appropriate type of collaboration. At the end of the day, it's many educators' hope that the students in their courses will be meaningfully engaged in conversations related to the content of their courses outside of class; this approach builds that in.

Ann Glazer, Academic Assessment, Center for Educational Effectiveness
Barbara Mills, Learning & Teaching Support, Center for Educational Effectiveness

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