As exams are developed by committees, it is important to have a plan in place that will allow collaboration among the committee members as it relates to creating and reviewing questions. While Microsoft Word has collaboration features available, many faculty are unaware of how to use them. In addition, exams developed in Word documents cause problems when converting to Blackboard because of markup.
The best approach, at this time, is to use a designated Blackboard Course shell (not a Blackboard Organization shell) to develop the exam. All instructors participating in the exam creation process can be enrolled in the shell so they can view, add and modify exam questions. Because the exam is developed directly in Blackboard, there are no issues moving the exam to the course template.
Keep Question Text Short
While the question text needs to contain all information the student needs, long question text (anything more than 255 characters) can lead to problems during data analysis. Items like tables (perhaps used to show balance sheets, income statements, statistics) quickly add to the question text character count.
The best approach is to type the actual question in the text, but to supply any additional information (such as tables, graphs, data) as image files. In addition to reducing the question text length, this also ensures that the table format will be exactly as expected, regardless of the browser and computer used to take the exam.
Other Considerations for Assessment Development
Turn Off the Visual Text Box Editor
If you have exam questions from a source like a Word document and you plan to copy & paste the questions and answers, turn off the Visual Textbox Editor in Blackboard. (This is a user-level setting, so every faculty member participating in the exam development will need to do this.) That way, when copying and pasting text from the Word document, the markup (i.e. bold, italic, font faces, etc.) are not maintained. This leads to fewer characters for each question, which has benefits both for data analysis as well as for performance when the exam is administered.
If certain parts of question text or answer text need to be formatted (e.g. bolding a key word), this can be done afterwards by simply turning the Visual Textbox Editor on again and editing the question or answer text.
Updated for Blackboard 9.1.
Steps to turn the Visual Textbox Editor on or off in Blackboard 9.x
- Log on to Blackboard.
- Navigate to the test or pool that is being edited.
- When editing a question, at the top right of the text area, turn Visual Editor to OFF.
This turns the Visual Editor off for your user account.
- You can now safely paste text from a Microsoft Word document or a web page.
- To turn the Visual Editor on again, repeat step 3.
All text areas (announcements, items, exam questions/answers) will no longer show the formatting toolbars.