Using different variants of iCMA questions

At the Open University we use different variants of our iCMA questions. So, to take a very simple example, when one student receives the question ‘Evaluate 3 + 7’, another might receive the question ‘Evaluate  ‘4 + 5’. In summative use, different variants limit the opportunities for plagiarism. In formative-only use, different variants provide students with extra opportunities for practice.

Some question authors will allow variables to be generated automatically, which offers the potential to create a very large number of different variants from a single stem. Perhaps that’s a good thing. But I am always concerned that

  1. variants generated in this way may not be of sufficiently similar difficulty (a topic to be discussed in future posts)
  2. some versions of questions may look unnatural or ‘ugly’ (e.g. ‘Evaluate 4 + -5’)
  3. In the event of queries, I want to know what version of a question each student has received, not just the template used to generate the question.
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