Use Parameters in Assessments

Learn the applications of parameters and how to use one or multiple when creating questions.

Parameterization is a useful feature to save an immense amount of time creating assessment questions for students. We will review:

  1. Use cases
  2. Using one parameter
  3. Using multiple parameters

Use cases

Parameters enable us to create variations of the same question by replacing question arguments such as numbers or words with a parameter. We can create hundreds of different questions that follow the same structure in virtually no time. This is especially helpful to:

  • Reinforce learning concepts - Easily create a variety of the same type of question for easy drilling or repetition, especially useful for student practice in self-tests
  • Prevent cheating - All students will receive randomized versions of the same question so they will need to solve the problem on their own but will be tested on the same learning concept

For example, let's say we have the question:

  • Solve x + 10 = 50 for x.

For extra practice solving algebraic equations, we could ask students the same exact question but using other numbers. For example:

  • Solve x + 20 = 50 for x.
  • Solve x + 33 = 52 for x.
  • Solve x + 45 = 43 for x.
  • Solve x + 22 = 65 for x.
  • ...and so on

We can create these multiple versions of the original question simply by using parameters.

Using one parameter

In our example, we have the question Solve x + 10 = 50 for x.

The possible choices for the answers are:

  • 40 (correct solution)
  • 30
  • 20
  • 10

Let’s say we want to change the question so that x + a changing variable = 50.

We must update the parameter in 3 places: 

  1. the Question text
  2. the Assets Parameters section
  3. the Answer & Grading Choices section

Question

In the Question, we replace our selected argument with a parameter variable defined by back ticks. We will use the variable `y` with back ticks.

Solve x + `y` = 50 for x.

We use back ticks `y` when using text or TemplateSlot[“y”] when using expressions. ‍

Parameters

Under Assets, click the (+) and select Parameter.

A new Parameters section will expand. We add the parameter with the same variable name in the question and define the interval minimum, maximum, and steps.

For example we can use a minimum 10, maximum 40, with a step size of 1 to have y equal to 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, or 40.

Answer & Grading Choices

Lastly, let’s include the parameter variable in the Choices.

We need to change the inputs to expressions by clicking the T button.

The parameter variable is defined by TemplateSlot[“y”]. We know the solution for x will always equal 50 minus the parameter y.

  • 50 - TemplateSlot["y"]

Fill the remaining answers for the question.

Preview the question, and we see the parameter y is randomly selected. (Below is an example of a possible preview.)

If we preview the question again, you can see the parameter now changes. (Below is an example of a possible preview.)

We follow the same procedure for any question type: selection, free response, and interactive response questions.

Using multiple parameters

It is possible to use as many parameters as desired for a question.

In our example, we can revise the question a step further to include a new parameter variable.

  • Original question: x + 10 = 50
  • One parameter: x + a changing variable = 50
  • Two parameters: x + a changing variable = a changing variable

Question

In the Question, we replace our selected argument with a second parameter variable defined by back ticks. We will use the variable `z` with back ticks.

Solve x + `y` = `z` for x.

Parameters

Under Assets, click the (+) and add a second Parameter.

We add the parameter with the same variable name z in the question and define the interval minimum, maximum, and steps.

For example we can use a minimum 50, maximum 100, with a step size of 5 to have z equal to 50, 55, 60, 65, and so forth.

Answer & Grading Choices

Lastly, let’s include the parameter variable in the Choices.

The second parameter variable is defined by TemplateSlot[“z”]. We know the solution for x will always equal parameter z minus the parameter y.

  • TemplateSlot["z"] - TemplateSlot["y"]

Fill the remaining answers for the question.

Lastly, let's preview the question again.

After you finish creating your assessment, remember to save your work by clicking the cloud button. Then deploy the exam to SYLVA.

Recap

Parameters are a helpful way to create a variety of the same question to reinforce learning concepts for students and prevent cheating. We have the flexibility to use one parameter or multiple, based on your creative needs.

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