You will have gathered by now that the term Tests used for this tool is a generic term used to describe a range of on-line learning activities which, along with assignments and forums, can be used to generate evaluative information which can guide students' further learning. A key aspect of the Tests tool is that it can be used to provide instant automated responses to student input without the need to wait for the teacher to respond. How such automated responses are delivered and used however can vary widely in the course of the student's journey through the course. Below are some suggested broad categories of evaluative activity which can be effectively set up using the Tests tool.
Exams refers to (generally time-controlled) exercises for which no immediate feedback, nor any answer, is given to the learner : he will obtain his results when the teacher considers it right. This type of summative assessment is often undertaken at the end of a course and may carry a high weighting in the overall assessment of the student. Because of its significance scoring and feedback are generally withheld until the teacher has had the chance to go through at students' results with a “fine-tooth comb”.
Exercises allow the teacher to assess the learner throughout the course e.g. at the end of a lesson, unit or module. Less formal than an exam, such tests might allow students three or more attempts and represent a more formative approach to assessment, involving plenty supportive feedback. Some elements of these tests might not be fully automated, requiring some level of direct assessment by the teacher. Most scoring would be immediately supplied, but feedback would tend to fall short of displaying the correct answer directly, challenging students to apply themselves to study revision and reflection to work out the correct answer for themselves.
Automated tests can generally be available to take an unlimited number of times. Their key purpose would be to allow the learner to “drill” himself, e.g. to learn vocabulary in a language course, rehearse a particular mathematical algorithm or memorize a safety procedure. Such tests would be free of any time constraints and would be fully automated displaying scoring, feedback and even correct answers to encourage improvements through practice.
Scenarios represent a more advanced form of interactive exercise where the teacher can pre-determine alternative next steps in the test predicated on student's response to a question, leading the student through a particular path of questioning. This type of activity can be achieved using Chamilo's Tests tool and can provide students with a very effective interactive on-line learning experience, but of course is by its very nature quite complex and demanding to set up.
The above descriptions demonstrate how the Tests tool can function depending on how it is configured by the teacher. The tool is designed to be as flexible as possible while remaining relatively easy to use, so variations on all the above “models” can be achieved to meet requirements.