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Self-Scoring Quizzes

Why Quizzes? Most educators agree that humans retain information better when they use it for something. I have therefore found educational utility in small, self-correcting review quizzes based on students' current reading or other class-related material. Most students agree that taking a quiz immediately after doing a reading or listening to a lecture helps them to remember it.

What Is Here? The pages linked here allow you to create four different kinds of quizzes by pasting in minimally formatted questions and getting back fully formatted quizzes in HTML format, ready for use on teachers' web sites. Examples are available on the Trivia Quiz Room page, although not all have been produced using the present software versions and some have been retouched after initial production.

Experience. I have made hundreds —possibly thousands— of quizzes for college freshmen using this software and have found the software reliable and the students enthusiastic. Some educational users have told me that what is available here is educationally superior to commercial products.

Legal Stuff. You may create quizzes for free using these quiz-maker pages. You own the quizzes, and no record is kept of your use of the pages on my site.

Features & Bugs:

  1. Each quiz takes the form of an interactive web page which should be created here and then downloaded and placed on a teacher's site, where it can be accessed by students. My site retains no trace of it.
  2. The Java-Script clockwork that evaluates each quiz is internal to the quiz itself and reports the results only to the student, with no provision to report anything back to the teacher. This provides immediate feedback, avoids student anxiety about the teacher noticing material not mastered, largely eliminates student motivation to cheat, and saves the teacher's time for teaching.
  3. When the student submits answers, s/he is not told the correct answers, only how many correct answers there are, inviting a student to modify potentially wrong answers and try again. That encourages the student to rethink items missed, how confident any "guesses" were, &c. To avoid random guessing, various devices are used to limit the number of "free" guesses.
  4. The number and (when it makes sense) the format of the questions is not fixed in advance. (For example, it's fine for one multiple-choice question to have 2 options and another 10, or for one question to require three out of 5 responses while other questions each require only a unique response, and so on.)
  5. Once a quiz has been downloaded into the student's browser, no further connection to the server is needed and no external files are involved. If desired, a student can therefore save a quiz onto any computer with a browser. Minimal on-line time is required for those using dial-up modems in regions without widely available wi-fi connections.

Quiz Types & Examples:

The five quiz types are listed in the order in which I find them most useful. The vast majority of my quizzes, I find, are of the first two types.

For additional sample quizzes, click here to visit my "Trivia Quiz Room." (Some of the quizzes in the Quiz Room were made or modified by hand, in which case their format cannot necessarily be reproduced using the quiz-making pages.)

Script Hacking by Students

In these days of increasing computer sophistication, some students will be tempted to look at the source code either out of curiosity (which is probably good) or in order to find the answer to a question (which is probably bad, but is usually more trouble than it is worth). I have made no effort to keep the JavaScript at all obscure. On the contrary I have made it as clear as possible so teachers can make modifications.

Encryption. Teachers seeking to avoid such behind-the-scenes exploration may wish to use encryption software to render the source code unintelligible while still allowing the web page to function normally.

A simple encryption program is WebCrypt Pro, available for about $40 from several distributers including Best Shareware. Such encrypting cannot be reversed, so encryption programs usually make a backup copy of the original. Since these quizzes are designed to function off-line, the answers must be included in them, so no encryption program is completely secure against the assault of a determined, knowledgeable, and ingenious student hacker. (Indeed even I have been able to defeat WebCrypt Pro.) However, WebCrypt Pro at least makes haking a bigger chore than merely taking the quiz.

To see how encrypting works, you can view the same demo quiz in unencrypted and encrypted form. The two files should look the same and work identically, but if you use your browser to view the "page source," you can see the difference. (They were encrypted with WebCrypt Pro.)

One word of caution about WebCrypt Pro: If you use an extended character set (such as so-called "66-99" quotation marks), your file they must be converted to ANSI format (representing the extended characters with ampersand codes) after you create a quiz but before before encryption; otherwise you will end up with the extended characters turning into "garbage characters." (The quiz-makers here convert ampersand codes back into Unicode, so the conversion to ANSI ampersand codes must come AFTER the creation of the quiz and BEFORE its encryption.) This can be done in Microsoft Word (with great care) or in a freeware utility like BabelPad, having it convert "from Unicode to Decimal." WebCrypt Pro, despite claims to the contrary, can't handle Unicode/UTF-8.

Other Languages & Extended Character Sets

Troubleshooting Quizzes With Other Scripts: Quite aside from encryption challenges, quizzes containing extended character sets occasionally do not work correctly. Here are some known issues:

Even more than with English quizzes, it is therefore essential to test each quiz you create to be sure it behaves as anticipated.

Three types of quiz have been modified for use in Esperanto at Diversaj Helpiloj por Instruistoj.

Unsolicited translations of slightly earlier versions of this page (but not of the quizmakers themselves) are available as follows. Because they seem to have been produced as translation exercises for English classes, the translated pages are not normally updated, and live links in them simply refer to the English pages linked above.

Georgian by Ana Mirilashvili
(Linked 2018-09-27)
German by Philip Egger
(Link confirmed 2019-08-21)
Indonesian by Jordan Silaen
(Link confirmed 2019-08-21)
Russian by Alexander Minaur
(The Russian version contains no links to sample quizzes or quizmaking pages.) (Linked 2021-04-15)
Ukrainian by Michael Stoddard
(The Ukrainian version contains no links to sample quizzes or quizmaking pages.) (Linked 2018-08-08)
Urdu by Samuel Badree
(The Urdu version contains no links to sample quizzes or quizmaking pages.) (Linked 2021-07-16)
Vietnamese by John Smith
(Linked 2018-07-30)

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