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Blackboard Thing of the Week: Questions – Multiple Fill in the Blanks

This week let’s take a look at one of the numerous question types available for use in a Blackboard test: Multiple Fill in the Blanks. As you’d expect from the name, this question type allows for a sentence with one or more “blanks” for the student to fill in. The tricks to using this question type are first to have the right type of question, and second to format the question properly.

So what sort of question is “the right type” to use with multiple fill in the blanks? Naturally that’s a matter of opinion, but what I look for is a question that isn’t going to have a great many possible words that might fill those blanks. For example, a bad question might be “The first president of the Unites States was [blank].” You see, in that case, as the instructor you would need to determine which (if any) answers might be correct. Among possibly correct answers might be “Washington”, “George Washington”, “President Washington”, “Mr. Washington”,¬†et cetera, ad nauseum. And that doesn’t even consider the issue of if you’ll accept common mis-spellings or require correct¬†capitalization¬† (Personally I always require correct use of capitals, but that’s just me.) In the explanatory video below I use the (obviously silly) sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Change out the adjectives for blanks, and that makes a fair sample, but if there are ever any exact quotes, or term definitions which students are supposed to have committed to memory, any of those would be suitable for this question type.

As to exactly how to format the question, it’s truly just a case of putting placeholders everywhere you’d want a blank to go. A strategy that has worked well for me is to start by typing out the whole sentence, then replacing words with the placeholders, as you’ll see in the video. Each placeholder is a variable between square brackets, so [x] would be an example. Thus the sample sentence about the fox above might become “The [q] [b] fox jumps over the [l] dog.” When you proceed to the next page of question creation, you’ll have the chance to fill in which words are correct for each placeholder. And, since Blackboard will know what the correct answers are, the system will grade the question for you.

So, be it one blank or many, consider how you might get your students filling out blanks in your tests!