Textbook publishers’ testbanks deployed in Questionmark quizzes at Eastern Washington University


Eastern Washington University (EWU) is a public university in Cheney, Washington, with programs in nine cities statewide and more than 10,000 enrolled students. The university's teaching and learning center provides support to all faculty members and provides ideas to help them incorporate technology and pedagogy into existing courses.

The university has already found a novel use for Questionmark: mobile assessments using wireless PocketPCs. But Carlee Belles, a preceptor in the university's teaching and learning center, explains that in addition to this a few of the faculty have found an innovative way to make better use of the resources from course textbooks with the help of Questionmark.

Third-Party Content

Many textbooks have questions at the end of each chapter, so that students can review what they've learned. But publishers also make questions available to professors specifically for testing purposes, and Belles says that a faculty member who was teaching a psychology course wanted to use those questions for regular quizzes in the course. Worth Publishing sent Belles a testbank that included 100 to 200 questions per chapter, and a smaller testbank with 50 to 100 additional questions per chapter. Worth sent the questions to her as Qpacks (Questionmark QML files), which can easily be imported into Questionmark using Question Manager. Weekly online quizzes of 20 questions are generated at random from the large testbanks and administered to the nearly 500 students in the course. Psychology faculty members also use Questionmark's 'Print To' option in Windows-based authoring to generate classroom exams in paper form.

Belles has followed a similar procedure for a business course, with a text from McGraw Hill. When she wanted to add more questions to her item bank, Belles simply augmented the questions from the current edition of the text with questions from an earlier text that were still pertinent to the book the students were using. The item bank for this course has 50 to 75 multiple-choice or true/false questions for each chapter, and Belles can easily create the weekly 10-question quizzes, randomly pulling questions for each chapter the quiz covers from the item banks. She also manually adds questions that she writes, using the Word templates in Authoring Manager.

Questionmark Content Converter

In the future, Belles hopes to take advantage of Questionmark's Content Converter, a web-based application for customers who need to convert third-party content into a format Questionmark can use. The Content Converter will further broaden the potential sources of assessment content that EWU can use.

Items in QTI-XML or Blackboard 6.x formats can easily be converted into Qpacks, and other formats can be accommodated with support from Questionmark. The converter can handle multiple choice, multiple response, yes/no, true/false, Likert scale and explanation item types.

Reporting on Results and Modifying Quiz Content

Belles exports most of her reporting data to ASCII so she can analyze it in an Excel spreadsheet. But she uses Questionmark's Coaching Report to discover whether students have had to answer any questions that were too difficult or that were coded with the wrong answers.

For Belles, Questionmark makes it easy to create the content she needs, no matter what the source. "Whether I'm writing the questions manually or converting them from another format, it's pretty simple and I don't have to go through a lot of steps," she says. "Questionmark was easy to learn, and I had a pretty quick learning curve."

Questionmark gives the option to use questions just as received from the publisher, modify the questions provided, create your own questions, or any combination of the three, giving educators power and flexibility in the assessments for their students.