On How Moodle Quizzes Can Contribute to the Formative e-Assessment of First-Year Engineering Students in Mathematics Courses
© The Author(s) 2012
Received: 15 June 2011
Accepted: 15 November 2011
Published: 15 January 2012
Given the importance of formative assessment in the context of the European Higher Education Area, it is necessary to explore new tools to implement innovative strategies for the formative assessment of students. Moodle’s quiz module represents an alternative to traditional tools, such as paper-and-pencil tests. In 2008, we carried out a project subsidised by the Institute of Education Sciences at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya — BarcelonaTech (UPC), the main aim of which was to elaborate a number of Moodle question pools and to design, implement and assess a series of quizzes from these pools. The project covered the compulsory undergraduate subjects in applied mathematics included in the first- and second-year syllabuses for all branches of Engineering. From the students’ results, it was then necessary to examine and revise the reliability of the quizzes as an assessment tool of the teaching and learning process. The analysis of the psychometric coefficients provided by Moodle proved to be a useful tool for assessing whether the questions had an appropriate level of difficulty and were suitable for discriminating between good and bad performers. Taking into account the psychometric analysis of this first project, in 2009 we initiated a new project, in which we planned to revise thoroughly the quizzes created in the former project, to improve their suitability as an assessment tool. This paper shows: i) the students’ results in the quizzes performed in the two academic years in the courses Mathematics 1 and Mathematics 2 — both taught in the first year of the four bachelor’s degree programmes in Biological Systems Engineering organised by the School of Agricultural Engineering of Barcelona at the UPC, as well as the students’ attitudes towards activities of this kind; and ii) the revision and fine-tuning of the quizzes from the psychometric analysis to improve their reliability. Finally, the analysis of the results reported leads to a discussion on the advisability of using this tool for the formative assessment of students.