Assessments: Using Sections in Cirrus

Cirrus Assessment Support Team -

Dividing questions into Sections in your assessment

In Cirrus you can easily add Sections to your assessment: context blocks with associated questions. Sections are sometimes also known as a 'use case' or 'stimulus pane', 'casus' or 'side-pane'.

Two types of sections in Cirrus: collection based and form-based sections

There are two types of sections in Cirrus. They differ in how they are assembled and what advantages they offer. We recommend using collection based sections moving forward:

Creating a collection based section, selecting the questions that go into it and using it in your Assessment 

Creating a collection based section and linking questions to it (friends)

A collection based section is created like any item in a collection. It derives it's name from the fact that  authors link the related questions directly to the item in the same collection in the library. to this type of section by authors directly to section pages in collections. These questions will then automatically be grouped when creating the test forms manually. [Blueprint implementation will follow]. Questions belonging to a section cannot be used individually. They are part of a group of "friendly items":

2018-08-15_1744-Section-with-friends-linked-questions.png

  1. Use the "Add questions button" to link items to your section. By adding questions to sections, these questions will always be drawn together from the library
  2. Under "Questions" you will see a list of linked friendly items.
    1. You can click the item text to open te question.
    2. Upon mouse-over you will see details such full question text, Question Type, ItemID and workflow status
  3. Warning when not all are "Live": All linked friendly items of a section need to have the status "Live" in order to use your section in an assessment. That is why when you try to save a section linked to non-live items you will get a warning "Not all linked questions are “Live” - section status will revert to Draft upon saving."

Please note that when you use a section with added friendly items the following applies:

  1. When you select a section with friendly items it is all or nothing: you cannot add or remove questions in your assessment form to such a section. 
  2. Friendly questions cannot be used individually in other sections for example.
  3. Sections will not show if there are withdrawn / non-live questions in it
  4. If a sections with friendly items is used in an assessment, you cannot add/remove items to it in the library.
  5. Ordering items in a collection based section can be done on the assessment form
  6. Accessing the advanced section settings as listed below is done on the assessment form - since those relate directly to the assessment
  7. Collection based sections will automatically show an introduction page - this page is only shown once the first time a candidate opens a question in a section, not matter which question you select. It will only be displayed one time though - to avoid the candidate spending too much time seeing the introduction page every time they navigate away from the section and then back again.
  8. The title which is displayed on the introduction page for candidates is the title given to your section page in the collection.

Inserting a collection based section into your assessment

Any finished section (meaning it is live and all linked friendly are also live) collection based sections can be added to manually assembled assessment like any other item. (Using them in Blueprints will follow later this year).

  1. When you select a section with friendly items it is all or nothing: you cannot add or remove questions in your assessment form to such a section. 
  2. Friendly questions cannot be used individually in other sections for example.
  3. Sections will not show if there are withdrawn / non-live questions in it

Advanced settings for collection based sections

Collection based sections have some very interesting advanced options which are accessible once you've inserted it into an assessment.

2019-06-12_1607-assessment-collection-based-section-advanced-setting-00.png

  • Random - check this box if you want to present the question within the section in random order to each candidate
  • Access (advanced) section settings using the 'pencil'-icon:

2019-06-12_1607-assessment-collection-based-section-advanced-setting-03.png

  1. Show / hide advanced options - click on the green link to show / hide advanced option
  2. Max time for section - defined in minutes. Leave blank for unlimited time. It is possible to set a maximum allowed time for a section. Please note that the time allowed cannot be more than the max time for the complete assessment. See Using Timed Sections.
  3. Pass Mark (for section) - Allows you to set a specific pass mark for the section. If set, candidates must pass the section in order to pass the complete assessment. Leave blank if no pass mark is required. Use the dropdown to define the passmark as a percentage of points or as a number of points to score for that section.
  4. Don't forget to click 'Save' to save your settings.

Additional notes on collection based Sections

  • See the notes listed above
  • Setting a pass mark on a section is is optional and if you don't enter a value, no specific pass mark will be used for the section.T
  • he title which is displayed on the introduction page is the same that you give on the Section page (in the collection).
  • The introduction page will show the first time you open a question in a section, no matter which question you select. It will only be displayed 1 time though (also to avoid the candidate spending too much time seeing the introduction page every time they navigate away from the section and then back again).
  • There is no ability to add free text to the introduction page yet, in addition to a title. We are thinking about this.
  • The introduction page will be automatically applied.

Creating an assessment-form based section, selecting the questions that go into it and using it in your Assessment

For the assessment-form based section the the specific case text (with options for images or video) ins created in your Library like any regular item. The questions belonging to this however are added to the assessment form first and then the section is selected using a button on the form, after which you move the items into this section. So the assembly takes place on the form level only (and not in the library):

 

Adding an assessment-form based section

2017-07-28_1603-add-sections-example.png

  • You have selected your questions and generated your assessment form in the previous steps.
  • Open your assessment form and use the ‘Add Section’-button to split the assessment into blocks of questions and create a section. The 'Add Section-page' will open:

  • Here you will chose which section page to be displayed on the left side of the screen of your candidates.
  • Tip: you can preview the section pages by clicking the magnifying icon
  • Tip: you can use the ID to know exactly which section page you're selecting.
  • Select the Section page you want to use for this section and click 'Save'. 

Manually adding questions to your assessment-form based section

  • The 'Select Questions -tab' is where you can add (or remove) and order the questions for this section:

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  1. Simply drag and drop the items you need into the section.
  2. To remove items drag them to the list of available questions.
  3. These items can be presented to candidates on fixed or random order, by ticking the 'Randomise' box.
  4. You can search questions by question text, item ID or labels added.
  5. Don't forget to click 'Save and Close' when done. Alternatively click 'Save' and go to the 'Options'-tab to create a Timed Section.
  6. Using the 'Options'-tab - you can convert the section into a so called Timed Section:

    Read more about Timed Sections

Tip: There is no formal relationship between the assessment-based section and the questions added to it on the form. As an author you can easily visualise such a relationship, showing which items belong to which section by:

  1. Use the Item ID's to link them. Example: Section xx belongs to questions xx-1, xx-2, section yy belongs to questions yy-1, yy-2 
  2. Add labels to your questions and section to easily recognise which ones belong together
  3. You can search on both labels and item ID on the question selection tab - see image above 

 

Please note: in the Library you can add Section pages which form the basis for sections in your assessments. Section pages contain the text for your section, a paragraph related to multiple question for example.

Previewing your Section in the Assessment

You can easily preview your assessment to see the power of using sections.

Please note that the top bar with the timer does not show in the candidate preview, so in order to preview timed sections you need to use anonymous sharing to preview this. (Don't forget to disable this when done).

Timed sections

Timed sections allow assessment authors to create sections consisting of a stimulus pane on the left and a subsets of related questions on the right that need to be answered within a given time frame by the candidate, for example 30 minutes. The timer for this starts as soon as the candidates opens one of the questions in the section.

Screen showing a timed section for the candidate
  • The section timer shows to the left inside the section
  • The overall assessment timer at the tops show the time left - this takes precedent over the section timer. 

Using Timed Sections as an Author

Authors using timed sections this means they need to take into account the following:

Assessment window: determines time frame when assessment can be taken. Candidates can only take the assessment during this time frame. 

 

Assessment duration: determines the overall time available for taking the whole assessment. (see assessment window).

Section timer: determines the time available to answer the questions in that section.

During this time the candidate can answer the questions and move in and out of the section. The timer starts when the first question of the section is opened.

After the section timer has expired the candidate will only be allowed to see the questions and any answer given, but will no longer be able to answer any questions in the section or edit any answer given to questions within that section.

When using (multiple) timed sections please be aware of the following

Please note when using timed sections: It is up to the assessment author to keep in mind the assessment duration, i.e. that the total length of timed section(s) does not exceed the total time available for the whole assessment.

  1. Make your candidates aware that the timed section timer start running as soon as they enter the section. It will not pause if they temporarily move outside the timed section.
  2. Timed sections can show an introduction page. Remember that this will only show once to the candidate and should not be confused with the actual casus or section text:

    An introduction page (pop-up) will show before a candidate opens a question that is part of section.  This introduction page will show only once:

    2019-07-08_1532-section-intro-page.png

  3. The introduction page of a section does not stop the clock. So if you have a 120 minute test with two 60 minute timed sections and the candidate spends some time on the introduction page the overall timer will continue. Basically, does the overall timer keep going when a candidate is reading the new info page between each section. The overall timer takes precedent, so if that shows 58 minutes left when the timed section show 60 minutes left there are in effect only 58 left to the candidate. (If not the candidate could 'pause the timer' of their exam!)
  4. Tip: you can instruct your candidates on the rules for timed sections in the introduction text of your assessment.
  5. Tip: you have the choice to only allow candidates to answer the questions in the predefined order should you choose to via the assessment's options. This way you can prevent them from opening timed section(s) prematurely. Be sure to warn them of this setting beforehand though!
  6. On the item overview for the candidate they can see which questions belong to a section (marked with a thin black line). This overview does not show if the section is timed or not.

    2019-07-08_1508-timed-sections-and-the-question-overview-for-candidates.png

How to set a timed section:

  • Open the assessment containing the section
  • Go to the Generate Assessment Tab > Open the assessment form
  • For collection based sections: click on the pencil icon of the section and set the duration.
  • For assessment-form based sections: click on the pencil icon of the section and set the duration on the Options tab of that section.
  • Click 'Save and Close'.

Important notice: if you need to regenerate your assessment which already contains assessment-form based sections, these will be lost. You will have to add them anew and include the relevant questions.

 

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