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Creating single exercises is not particularly useful as one usually wants to combine different exercises into a test. A test in the QTI standard typically consists of one or more sections. Each Section can contain a combination of exercises or other subsections, providing great flexibility in test structure. Sections can be customized with respect to various parameters, such as time limit and shuffling.

The rqti package makes it very simple to mix different sources of exercise files:

  • Rmd (md) files: You can use Rmarkdown files that are consistent with the rqti package (the exams package will not work but see below)
  • QTI XML files: These files should be valid regarding the QTI standard. To use your Rmd-files from the exams package you can convert them to xml first.
  • Objects of S4 rqti classes: You can also use objects from the rqti package directly. See QTI OOP model.

Using the section and test functions

Although it is possible to feed a test with exercises directly, we suggest to always use a section, as this provides more flexibility and avoids several problems. Even if you do not need a section, you can just create a root section and put the exercises there.

We designed a simple wrapper for sections. Here we load some files from our package and use the function section to create the section. Note that we request 10 different variants of all exercises.

path <- fs::path_package("exercises", package = "rqti")
files <- paste0(path, "/", c("gap1.Rmd", "gap2.Rmd"))
root_section <- section(content = files, n_variants = 10)

Now we can make a test out of this and upload it to Opal. Again there are helpers for that: test and test4opal. test is more general and is always consistent with the QTI model, whereas test4opal can use additional Opal-specific parameters that are not necessarily consistent with QTI.

test <- rqti::test(root_section, "test1")
# createQtiTest is a method of the OOP test class
createQtiTest(test, zip_only = T)
repo <- upload2opal("", open_in_browser = F)

Note that you could also call upload2opal(test) directly. We just wanted to demonstrate how to write out a test locally before uploading it somewhere.

We now have 10 variants of the test, two of which look like this in Opal:

After the root section you can see the section exam_8833 (image 1) and exam_S7829 (image 2). There are actually 8 more (10 in total) and if you restart the exam, you will get one randomly assigned. You can try it yourself:

To summarize so far: You can just pass your exercise files to the content parameter in section and define how many variants you would like to create of each file.

Of course, creating several variants only makes sense for random exercises. Single choice and multiple choice exercises could be part of different sections:

non_random_exercises <- paste0(path, "/", c("sc1.Rmd", "mpc1.Rmd"))
root_section <- list(section(files, n_variants = 10), 

Note that we use a list here for the root section. This is important as the test functions expect a list to be more flexible with different inputs (e.g. objects instead of files). Now we can again make a test out of this and upload it to Opal:

test <- rqti:::test4opal(root_section, "test2")
createQtiTest(test, zip_only = T)
repo <- upload2opal("", open_in_browser = F)

In Opal this will create the following structure:

As you can see, we still have our variable section with different variants (you see two of them in the images). But now, we also have a fixed section that is the same for all tests. Try it out yourself:

Note that the function section returns an AssessmentSection rqti-object:

lapply(root_section, class)
#> [[1]]
#> [1] "AssessmentSection"
#> attr(,"package")
#> [1] "rqti"
#> [[2]]
#> [1] "AssessmentSection"
#> attr(,"package")
#> [1] "rqti"

The entire rqti-package relies on S4 Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), where exercises, sections, and tests are treated as distinct objects. If you are not accustomed to OOP, it might seem unfamiliar at first, but you do not need to delve into all the technical details to use it effectively. Simply utilize the provided helper functions, and you should navigate through with ease.

To customize your sections and tests, check out the references: ?section and ?test or ?test4opal.

Two approaches for different variants of a single exercise

By default the section function creates different variants of an exercise by drawing different seeds and creating subsections with these seeds. There is also a different approach to introduce randomness. Check out the following figure:

Two approaches for structuring exercise variants On the left-hand side, four distinct subsections were generated, each housing the same exercise files but with different variants. A participant, starting at the root section, is randomly assigned to one of these subsections, encountering all exercises within that specific subsection. This setup, a common experimental design, is generally satisfactory for most instructors conducting exams. It ensures that all participants within a subsection encounter the same set of exercises, facilitating psychometric analysis. However, a drawback is the potential for collaboration between participants within the same subsection.

On the right-hand side, an alternative strategy was implemented. Each exercise file now has its dedicated subsection, encompassing its diverse variants. Participants navigate through each section, being assigned only one variant per section. The noteworthy distinction from the initial approach lies in the plethora of potential paths available in the test. Given the presence of 3 variants for each of the 4 files, a total of 34=813^4 = 81 paths emerges. While this configuration may complicate psychometric analysis and introduce challenges in maintaining exercise difficulty equilibrium, it provides a notable advantage in thwarting cheating, as the paths of two students are likely to differ.

However, exercising caution is imperative when adopting this approach, particularly in an exam setting. Interestingly, this setup finds greater utility when exchanging specific exercises among instructors. For instance, generating 20 variants of an exercise and bundling them into a test allows for easy import as a subtest in other instructors’ exams. Notably, such flexibility would not be feasible with the structure on the left-hand side.

To choose between these two versions you can use the parameter by in the sense of section by variants or section by files.1

root_section = section(content = files, n_variants = 3, by = "files")
  1. For “by variants” (left scheme on the picture) use by = "variants"
  2. For “by files” (right scheme) use by = "files"