Assessing Student Learning with Core Moodle Tools

Moodle Basics Series

Assessment and feedback are a critical part of the teaching and learning process. You might want to create a low-stakes assessment that is “formative,” meaning it is administered before or during the learning process to guide your teaching or help your student monitor progress. On the other end of the spectrum, you might have a major assessment like an exam or project that you use in a “summative” way at the end of a module or unit. Moodle has several built-in tools you can use to assess student learning.

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Best Practices

1. Align your assessments with your learning objectives

  • Could you measure the ability to explain a concept through a multiple choice quiz?
  • Should you ask students to design an experiment to see if they can list the steps of the scientific method?
  • Can you test whether students can define the branches of government through a matching question?

All three of there are examples of where the learning objective and the assessment are out of alignment!

  • Multiple-choice questions are good for testing the ability to identify a correct answer out of several options. A better assessment of the ability to explain would be a long-answer question.
  • Designing is a higher-order thinking skill than listing. A better assessment would be simply to ask students to list the steps.
  • Matching questions test the ability to identify the correct definition. A better assessment to measure the ability to define would be a long-answer question.

Notice that the action verbs are emphasized in these examples. Identifying the action verb in the learning objective and the action verb for the assessment is a good way to confirm alignment. To ensure that you are not assessing at a higher-order thinking level than your objective, you can refer to this list of action verbs categories by Bloom’s Taxonomy. Learn more about alignment from the DELTA News Article, “Course Maps Support Student Success” and from “Why Should Assessments, Learning Objectives, and Instructional Strategies Be Aligned?” from Carnegie Mellon University.

2. Include a variety of assessments in your course

Offering a variety of assessments is important because some students will perform better on some types of assessments better than others due to the nature of the assessment. If something about the nature of the assessment poses a barrier for students, then their performance might not be reflective of their level of mastery. For instance, if timed exams cause a student a lot of variety, they may perform less well on that sort of assessment than on a project or paper that measures the same learning. Learn more about this topic in “Variety In Assessment and Assessment Methods” from University of New Brunswick.

3. Choose an assessment type that is appropriate for your goals

The three types of Moodle assessment tools that will be discussed in this article are Quiz, Assignment and Forum. Use the information below, about each, to select an appropriate tool for your assessment.

Core Moodle Assessment Tools


Quizzes in Moodle offer many types of available question types from multiple choice, matching, true/false and other auto-graded question types, to long answer questions that must be manually graded. They are appropriate for anything from self-checks to final exams. Settings allow you to designate a time limit on an attempt, the number of attempts a student can make, how and when they receive feedback and more.

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Moodle’s Assignment tool allows you to create a space for students to turn in their work, whether it be a paper, project, or more. A variety of file types can be submitted, or you can allow students to enter text directly into the assignment activity. Assignments are graded manually. The grading interface allows you to annotate on students’ papers and create/use a rubric or grading guide to score students’ work.

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In Moodle Forums, students create posts and read and respond to other students’ posts. Forums are graded manually. They are especially good to use when students will have different answers to the prompt, because then they will learn the most from each others’ perspectives on the issue. If they are likely to have the same answer, you may choose to use Assignment instead. Forums can be very effective for hosting debates.

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