Main page ► Managing a Moodle course ► Questions ► Essay question type
Note: This page is about the essay question type in the Quiz activity. For information about the essay question type in a Lesson activity, see the documentation Building Lesson.
About the essay question type
The essay question type is intended for short answers of a paragraph or two, that one often finds on exams. For longer essays, text or file uploads in an Assignment is usually the better choice.
Essay questions are created in the same way as other quiz question types. The difference is that essay questions have to be marked manually, and the student will not get a final grade until the teacher has marked their essay.
Creating an essay question
- If you haven't yet made a quiz, access the Question bank from Course administration>Question bank and click the button 'Create a new question', choosing 'Essay'.
- If you have made a quiz, access the Edit quiz screen and from the Add drop down, choose 'Add a new question', choosing 'Essay'.
- Give the question a descriptive name - this allows you to identify it in the Question bank.
- Enter the question in the 'Question text' field. This will be the title of and information about the essay you wish them to write.
- Set the 'default mark' and any 'General Feedback' if required. This is text that appears to the student once you have graded their essay.
- 'Response format' allows you to choose what is available for the students when typing their essays, for example the regular WYSIWYG editor with or without the option to upload files, or a a plain text editor (with no formatting.) No inline text means they cannot type any text. You cannot select this if you don't allow attachments, as the students will have nothing to submit. If you have programming students, they may require plain text with monospaced font for their code.
- 'Require text' allows you to decide whether or not students must add text into the text editor when they do the question. If you only want them to upload a word-processed file as an essay, then you can set this to 'Text input is optional'. (Note that this setting does not force the student to type text into the text editor; they can still leave it blank and continue to another question.)
It is possible for a teacher to create a template to scaffold the student's answer in order to give them extra support. The template is then reproduced in the text editor when the student starts to answer the question. See Youtube video Essay scaffold with the Moodle quiz It is also possible to include grading information for teachers marking the essay to refer to as they assess the essays:
Response template and grader info set up
The essay question will not be assigned a grade until it has been reviewed by a teacher and manually graded. Until that happens, the student's grade will be 0.
To grade a student's answer in a quiz, go to Administration> Quiz administration>Results>Manual grading in your course.
When manually grading an essay question, the grader is able to enter a custom comment in response to the essay and assign a score for the essay.
This is a sample reading response essay to an article titled “Cell Phones are Dangerous" by Mary Johnson, agreeing with the article and extending one of the ideas.
Paragraph 1: Dramatic re-telling of a personal story of picking up my cell phone and then realizing that I am going to crash into another car. Stop the story right before the crash.
Paragraph 2: Like most people, I thought I was a good enough driver to handle using a cell phone while driving. I found out I was wrong. It turns out I’m not unusual. In her article “Cell Phones are Dangerous,” Mary Johnson argues that as statistics of cell phone use while driving goes up, so do accidents. According to Johnson, we should not use our phones while driving and should educate others not to use them either. Johnson cites statistics showing that talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving drunk. Moreover, she points out the increasing number of accidents caused by cell phone use. Her conclusion is that we need to personally decide not to use a cell phone while driving and that we need to educate our friends and family to give up using cell phones while driving too. I agree with Jones that cell phones are dangerous and that we should personally choose to not use one while driving; however, I’d go further than Jones by adding that we need to have laws that prohibit anyone from using cell phones in cars.
Each of these statements would be the topic sentence of one of the body paragraphs. For the first one, I also give examples of the type of arguments and support I would use to write that paragraph and prove my point.
1. Laws make people realize that cell phone driving is dangerous. (Below is an example of some support I could use to back up this idea—you can use ideas from the article but do not repeat the article.)
- support with an anecdote of friends or family thinking a call is more important than driving
- use statistics from article
- argue some people will be convinced by being educated, but not everyone
- use example of seatbelt laws saving lives
- argue that using a cell phone endangers others and not just yourself
2. New technology requires changes in public policy.
3. People in my generation feel obligated to take a call, but if it is illegal to call while driving, they won’t feel that pressure.
4. Using hands-free headsets won’t work because it is the call which is distracting, not holding the phone.
5. This law will save a lot of lives.
I would return to my personal story and pick it up where I left off. I do crash and there is a lot of damage to my car, but no one is hurt. I can explain my great relief that my cell phone use did not end more tragically, and my personal decision to put my cell phone where I can’t reach it while driving. End with an appeal to the reader to do the same, but to also support legislation to prohibit cell phone use while driving.