Do you have a large unit where you need to create multiple versions of an exam or quiz with different variables? This advanced find and replace tool uses Excel to generate multiple versions easily which can also can help to reduce the possibility of cheating in exams and tests, whether they are held online or in class.

The tool, called Version Generator, was developed by Colin Zhang and Poon Leung from the Department of Actuarial Studies and Business Analytics in MQBS.

Here they explain to Teche how it works and why you should consider using it.

Why did you develop this tool – what problem were you trying to solve?

We both have very large enrolment numbers in our units (1000+ per session), and we need to have multiple versions of assessment tasks. For example, we want each tutorial group to have the same type of questions, but with different variables. If there are 10 questions in the quiz, all with different variables, and we have 30 tutorial groups, that means we would have 30 different quizzes with 300 variables to manage. This tool allows us to easily keep track of each version and also calculate the answers within the spreadsheet. 

How does Version Generator work?

Version Generator is designed to take a template created as a Word document, search for key variables, and then replace those variables with ones specified in an Excel spreadsheet. It can easily generate multiple versions of an assessment question by switching numbers or text. It is simple to use and saves you from having to copy and paste multiple times, so there is also a time saving.

Here is an overview of how it works.

How does it reduce the possibility of cheating?

When we use the tool to generate questions for both online exams and in class tests, we know which version was sent to each student. So, for example, if a student was sent version 2 of the exam, but their responses correspond to the answers for version 5, it immediately highlights a potential cheating possibility for further investigation.

What are the advantages of using this tool? 

The two main benefits of this tool are firstly, the time savings when generating multiple versions, as the user doesn’t need to manually open the word document for each version and apply the changes, and, secondly, the reduction/removal of human error as the versions are automatically generated. 

Where is this tool most useful?

‚ÄčIn its current form, the Version Generator tool’s greatest benefit would be for larger units and/or assessment tasks that stay mostly the same across semesters. 

Does it have any other applications? 

The Version Generator tool could also be used for qualitative types of questions. With a slight modification, this tool can also be used in conjunction with a template for iLearn and generate a document that can be uploaded to iLearn to create multiple choice questions. Having a large pool of questions, as a question bank, is useful for units regardless of cohort size. 

What are the steps involved in using Version Generator?

Watch this short video for a demonstration of using the tool.

How can the tool be accessed?

If you are interested in using the tool for your unit, please get in contact with Dr Colin Zhang, Department of Actuarial Studies and Business Analytics.

Poon Leung is a Lecturer in the Department of Actuarial Studies. He is in a L&T position and convenes ACST1001 and BUSA8000.

Colin Zhang is a Lecturer in Department of Applied Finance and Actuarial studies. He has years of experience in delivering lectures for a broad range of Actuarial and Applied Finance units. His research area includes life cycle model, optimal control, financial strategy and derivative pricing.

Posted by L&T Development

The Learning and Teaching Staff Development team works with staff across the University to ensure they are supported to facilitate quality learning for students. This includes offering professional development, contributing to curriculum and assessment design, recognising and rewarding good practice, supporting peer review of teaching, and leading scholarly reflection. Email with questions or requests.

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