Quizzing Tool in BLEND: Lightening the Grading Load

Today’s Contributor: Cherry Whipple

Cherry is a History teacher at Austin High School, and she is the Campus Innovation Coach.

As Austin ISD teachers move towards more effective use of technology in the classroom, one aspect that is used most frequently is the quizzing tool in BLEND. Why? Because the built-in tool grades quizzes for the teacher! As the Campus Innovation Coach (CIC), I receive questions related to quizzing more than any other topic. I’ve fielded questions about the best settings for keeping tests secure, how to add access codes, how to upload test banks, and about many additional procedural topics. I often refer these types of questions to the Canvas Instructure teacher’s guide for instructors, which is very comprehensive (https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10460). Besides its ability to lighten the grading load for teachers, quizzing is also one of the easiest technology tools embedded in BLEND for teachers to “enter” the blended learning game and explore innovative teaching and learning.

One way BLEND can go beyond the “Canvas Instructor Guide” in their usage of quizzing, is by utilizing Professional Learning Community (PLC) to create banks of questions tied to course outcomes and standards. When teachers work together to create quizzes in BLEND they are able to be more purposeful in tying questions to outcomes. Once quiz questions are aligned to outcomes, the Learning Mastery gradebook can be used to show which standards individual students are struggling to learn. Retesting becomes tied to the outcomes and, with the larger bank created by a PLC, multiple questions are available for each standard. BLEND even color codes the outcomes so students can easily see the “red” outcomes that are challenging them the most. Teachers can check the class averages for each outcome. Most TEKS are already loaded in the Outcomes tab, so subject-area outcomes are ready to be used with little teacher effort!

Quizz 1

Another way Blend quizzing can add innovation is by using Quizzes.Next. Quizzes.Next goes beyond the typical style of quiz questions. The question types available in Quizzes.Next not available in BLEND’s regular quizzing tool include Categorization, Hot Spot, Ordering, and Stimulus/Passage. My favorite is Categorization (see below). However, be aware that the settings function in Quizzes.Next is not as robust as Blend’s embedded quizzing tool, as it does not allow you to change the viewing options for students seeing their responses. Here is a comparison of the features of the two types of quizzing tools available in BLEND: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-12115-quizzes-lti-feature-comparison

Quizz 2

Finally, using BLEND’s quizzing function you can create team quizzes. Team-Based Learning is a collaborative model that leverages group quizzing. Students do preparatory work to learn basic material, take an individual quiz, then take the same quiz with a “team.” Read more here: http://www.teambasedlearning.org I began using this strategy with the UT OnRamps history course and decided I liked it so much I use it in all my classes. One of the main benefits is incentivizing completing assignments before class. Team quizzing also improves student engagement. I’ve seen students fail the individual portion of the quiz, but still engage in heated discussions during the team quiz about why an answer is or is not correct. Students indicate they like team quizzes regardless of what they score. I weight the individual vs. team score differently at the beginning of the year, 50% each, as students are acclimatizing to the team quiz. The second grading period scores are weighted 60% individual/40% team and, by the third grading period and for the remainder of the year, quiz weights are 70% individual/30% team. While individual students may benefit from the team score while not adequately completing homework, it quickly becomes apparent in later grading periods which students need teacher intervention. Some tip for setting up team-based quizzes:

  • Keep quiz length to 10-15 questions so there is time for both quizzes in one period. Set a timer to keep students focused on moving forward quickly.
  • Mute the quiz in the gradebook. Students will otherwise see what they scored and teams will just go with the answers of the person who scored the highest.
  • Allow students with accommodations to come to class early to start the quiz if they want additional time.
  • Use a combination of easy, medium, and difficult questions. Make sure all questions can be answered correctly after completing the preparatory materials, although more difficult questions can require analysis and inference beyond simple definitions.
  • Use the following settings to maximize security.






  1. I didn’t know about the Team Quiz feature! I can’t wait to try it. I especially like the “Hot Spot” feature of the new quiz. When teaching software it’s a great way to create hot spots on images of the toolbar and have the students identify them. I’m hoping to get our PLCs to build question banks just as you’ve suggested.

  2. Thanks for the tips here. My PLC is has been building question banks all year for skill quizzes. We’ve had lots of success, but still need some fine tuning. I am excited to share this stuff with my team.

  3. Along with Diane, I am truly grateful for all of the tips you’ve shared here! Such great suggestions! I have used the Quiz function for my first graders only once, but the excitement they shared for being able to take a quiz online and the ease with which I received results was amazing! Plus, my students seemed really interested in their scores–mores than with paper type assessments, which was very interesting (possibly because it seemed “gamey” in nature…?). Thanks again! 🙂

  4. WOW! These are great tips that you have shared! Thank you for sharing your experiences with the BLEND quizzing function. I also really like the idea of the individual quiz followed by team quizzing!

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