University of Sydney

MCQ International grew from an online multiple choice question delivery engine developed at the University of Sydney between 1996 and 1998 (‘MCQ’ originates from ‘Multiple Choice Question’). Many departments at the University of Sydney have since benefited from the software that is now known as Interactive Question Server™ (IQS). Hundreds of thousands of assessments, surveys and exams have been delivered to students at the University, which is just one of many to use IQS.

Online Revision Quizzes for Study Purposes

The original application for IQS at the Department of Psychology within the University is still one of the most popular. It is the presentation of online revision quizzes to assist students in their exam preparation. Prior to IQS, online revision tended to consist of reading long blocks of static text on screen. IQS introduced many features suited to online revision. It can provide instantaneous feedback with multiple levels of explanatory text available and indicates clearly the areas of strength and weakness in students’ knowledge. The ability to randomly select questions from a pool encourages students to revisit an assessment and increases their overall study. Lecturers and tutors are also able to view results, giving them a good indication of how their students are performing. These quizzes are usually open for students to complete at any time, as often as they wish.

Informal Regular Quizzes Conducted Online

A slightly different use of IQS at the University of Sydney involves the delivery of regular, low-stakes quizzes to students. This is often done as part of a brief tutorial quiz conducted in small groups in computer-equipped classrooms. The students’ performance in the tutorial quiz counts a small amount towards their overall mark, but a more significant reason for conducting these quizzes is to conduct a regular ongoing assessment of each student’s progress throughout the course. Students will generally receive their results on these quizzes immediately, so unlike end-of-course assessments, these quizzes give students a regular ‘snapshot’ indication of how they are performing while the course is in progress. This gives the students enough time to take action to address any weaknesses in particular areas.

Formal Assessments Conducted Online

A number of departments at the University of Sydney also use IQS to conduct formal assessments for students. Often these assessments are conducted in computer laboratories or computer-equipped classrooms. A common practice is to allow students to access a revision quiz prior to the formal assessment. This way, students become familiar and comfortable with the IQS software prior to the formal assessment. Students are supervised during completion of these exams as they would be in a traditional paper based examination. As the results are collected electronically, there is no need for manual marking or collation of results (and also no risk of manual marking errors). In some cases students may receive their results immediately but this is not necessarily so. The ability to randomize question order and selection for every student is a great defence against cheating and another advantage of electronic assessment over paper based methods.