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Using Blackboard for testing

What is it?

With Blackboard's 'Tests, Survey's and Pools' module tests and surveys can be created, administered and managed.

Lecturers can use tests to assess students’ knowledge and monitor their progress. Every assessment is linked to a grade in the Nestor Grade Centre. Surveys (in Nestor: ‘Surveys’) are used to collect student information. Surveys are equivalent to assessments, but without credits and grades. A Question Pool is a collection of questions, or ‘item bank’.

You can create tests and surveys and make them available in a specific course area. Once you’ve added a test or survey to a content area, it will be ‘implemented’.
In the Grade Centre you can view, mark and give feedback on the completed assessments.

How can you use it for teaching?

The ‘Tests, Surveys and Pools’ Blackboard module makes it possible to create, administer and manage tests and surveys. This test module is meant to be used for sample tests and ‘homework assignments’. You can also use Blackboard to administer digital examinations, but only if the examination is administered in a secure environment [link to general information about this topic?].

The test module makes it possible to automatically grade multiple-choice and numeric questions. In the case of numeric questions, each student can be assigned his/her own set of parameters to prevent blind copying. A ‘likert scale’ question type is available for creating surveys. Click here for an overview of question types available in Blackboard.

By working with questions pools, you can group questions by topic. You can then use these question pools to easily put together a test. You can also create a test in which every student is assigned an individual random set of questions from a question pool.

Question pools can be exported and shared with others.

The Blackboard test module also offers possibilities for conducting an item analysis.

More information

How does it work?

It takes a lot of work to create a test or sample test directly in Blackboard. Mostly, this involves a lot of clicking. It is much easier to create a test or sample test in Blackboard by using the Respondus program. This involves less clicking, there is a preview option, and it is much easier to cut-and-paste from a different program (such as Word). Respondus also makes it possible to upload questions from a file, such as a Word file. This file should have a specific structure. It is fairly simple to insert multimedia files (images, audio or video). Moreover, all the settings can be adjusted via Respondus. Respondus makes it easier to exchange information with other educational institutions.

By working with questions pools, you can group questions by topic. You can then use these question pools to easily put together a test. You can also create a test in which every student is assigned an individual random set of questions from a question pool.

Before you start
There are a few things to consider when creating a test or survey:

  • Does this test require special instructions?
  • How many questions are there?
  • What type of questions am I going to ask?
  • What credit value should I assign to the questions?
  • Are partial credits acceptable for some or all questions?
  • Are some questions more difficult, and can students get additional credits for these questions?


Creating tests and surveys
You can create tests and surveys by formulating new questions, using inbuilt question types or questions from existing tests and pools, uploading questions, or importing pools.

Deploying tests and surveys
Once you have created a test or survey, you have to deploy it. This can be done by adding your test or survey to a content area and making it available to students.

Grading tests
Blackboard automatically grades all test questions, with the exception of open questions, which have to be graded manually. The Grade Centre offers a number of options for grading tests.

  • Multiple attempts: You can adjust the settings of your test via the Settings page for creating tests. The final grade of a test can consist of the grade for the first attempt, the last attempt, or the average of all attempts.
  • You can use Clear Attempt(s) to delete a grade from the Grade Centre. You can do so per individual attempt or for all attempts at once. If there is a technical failure, for instance, you may want to delete all test attempts produced on that day.
  • You can use the Manually Override option to submit a grade to replace an existing grade in the Grade Centre. In case of exceptional circumstances during the examination, you can use this option to manually lower or raise a student’s grade. This score will then be used to calculate the final grade.


Item analysis
Item analysis provides statistics on overall test performance and individual test questions. This helps you recognize questions that might be poor discriminators of student performance. You can use this information to improve questions or to adjust credit on current attempts.

You can run item analyses on deployed tests with submitted attempts, but not on surveys. Previously run item analyses can be accessed under the Available Analysis heading. You can also select a deployed test from the drop-down list and click Run to generate a new report. The new report’s link appears under the Available Analysis heading or in the status receipt at the top of the page.

For best results, run item analyses on single-attempt tests after all attempts have been submitted and all manually graded questions scored. Interpret the item analysis data carefully and be aware that the statistics are influenced by the number of test attempts, the type of students taking the test, and chance errors.

Getting to work
The test module is available as a standard in Blackboard. It can be found under ‘Course Tools’.

More information:

Tests, Surveys and Pools (Blackboard Help)

Last modified:14 June 2019 12.28 p.m.
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