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Randomize questions in Canvas

For larger, assessed assignments, such as an exam, it is often advantageous if the students do not receive exactly the same questions. Random questions is a good method for this, and on this page we go through what we recommend for random questions in Canvas.

Randomize questions using quizzes in Canvas

In Canvas, tasks are randomized in the quizzes. In the question type "Formula", variables can be randomized, but to randomly generate completely different questions, "item banks" are used. Canvas has two quiz functions, Classic Quizzes and New Quizzes. Both can be used, but they work in different ways.

Random questions for examination

In order to make full use of SpeedGrader's functionalities when assessing, the submission of assignment must take place in a Canvas assignment. However, random tasks/questions can only be created in a quiz. The recommendation for an examination where students are to be given random questions is therefore that the students are asked the question in a quiz but that they submit their answers in an assignment. If it is a mathematical question that needs to be randomized, please take a look at the page Examination with random values  to get inspiration for good variation without affecting the degree of difficulty.

Screenshot shows Canvas module with Code of conduct, quiz with exam question and a assignment.

Creating an examination structure with random questions in Canvas involves creating a quiz and at least one assignment. The students first gets their exam questions randomly from the quiz and then submit via the assignment. This way, you as a teacher can ensure that the students are given different subjects / questions while also simplifying the assessment work.

Canvas has two quiz features, Classic Quizzes and New Quizzes. Both can be used, but only use one at the time. Here you can read more about which quiz function you should choose when . Once you have selected the quiz function, it is time to create questions. This is best done in your sandbox (your own private course room without students), where you can collaborate with colleagues without in any way risking students seeing what you are working on. Create a quiz with the questions that are to be randomly assigned to the exam. Note that it is possible to copy an already created question, then you can make minor variations in the same question to save time. The settings for the quiz where the questions are created do not matter as that quiz is only for creating questions that will be uploaded to an item bank. It is possible to edit questions in an item bank as well, but the layout you work in is easier to work in when the question is still in the quiz. Read more about how item banks work with New Quizzes  and about how question groups work with Classic quizzes .

Formulate questions

The easiest way to create questions is as follows:

  1. Select the query type "True or False"
  2. Give the questions a name that can distinguish them from each other for your own sake (this name is not visible to students).
  3. Then describe the topic / formulate the question. Do not forget to include any variant of "I confirm that I have received this topic" to avoid confusion linked to the question type, i.e. if they need to answer true or false.
  4. Click "Done" and repeat these steps until you have the correct number of questions you want to randomize between. Once you have created at least one question, you can also choose to duplicate it, instead of creating a completely new one, by clicking the "Copy" button in the upper right corner of the question.

Create the Quiz for the exam wording

Once you have created the questions to be randomly assigned in the exam wording and they are placed in an item bank (or several), it is time to create the quiz that will be used for the examination. The following settings are recommended for the quiz's external settings:

For New Quizzes

  • Points: 0 (points should be given to students where they submit their solutions)
  • Assignment group: Optional
  • Display grade as: Points (To not be confused with the submission where the exam results are reported.)
  • Submission type: Note that the submission type will be listed as "External tool" due to how New Quizzes works, it will not affect anything.
  • Submissions Attempts: One attempt (Otherwise one student may generate several different exams)
  • Anonymous grading: No (The recommendation is to use anonymous grading by activating in SpeedGrader instead of here. Learn more about SpeedGrader in Canvas )
  • Anonymous instructor annotations: No (the function needs to be activated in the Canvas room to be visible) It is recommended to use the setting, but is not necessary in the quiz, as feedback should mainly be given where the students have submitted their answers. Read more about how to activate the function on the page of Settings for examining assignments .
  • Assign: Adjust the publication date and time to suit your exam. Set "Due" to the end time of the examination, but set "Available Until" so that the quiz is visible for half an hour longer in the event of a technical problem. You will clearly see in the assessment overview who submitted after the "Due" time.

Once the quiz has been created, you can make further choices under the "Settings" tab. We recommend that you select "Restrict student result view". Under the heading "Quiz settings" on the Quiz function  page, you will find more information about "Settings".

For Classic Quizzes

  • Quiz type: Assessed Quiz.
  • Assignment group: optional.
  • Options: only "Let students see their responses" selected, all others removed.
  • Assign: Adjust the publication date and time to suit your exam. Set "Due" to the end time of the examination, but set "Available Until" so that the quiz is visible for half an hour longer in the event of a technical problem. You will clearly see in the assessment overview who submitted after the "Due" time.

In the quiz for the exam wording, add the desired number of random questions from your item bank. Under the heading "Add question from item bank" on the page New Quizzes item banks  and Classic Quizzes question groups , you can see how it is done, step by step.

Example, quiz and assignments for exams

The picture below shows what an exam is recommended to look like in Canvas. The exam assignments are randomly assigned to the students through a quiz and submission takes place in separate assignments. The Canvas parts of the exam are clearly presented in modules so that the student can easily get an overview of the entire examination's technical solution.
Learn more about how to arrange good assignments for students' submissions  or how to handle modules .

Screenshot, shows quiz, 5 assignments for submission and one for draft paper clearly published
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Last changed: Apr 20, 2021