Moodle Modules for Assessment

8 min read


Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Over 60 simple and incredibly effective recipes for harnessing the power of the best Moodle modules to create effective online learning sites

  • Packed with recipes to help you get the most out of Moodle modules
  • Improve education outcomes by situating learning in a real-world context using Moodle
  • Organize your content and customize your courses
  • Reviews of the best Moodle modules—out of the available 600 modules
  • Installation and configuration guides
  • Written in a conversational and easy-to-follow manner
        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on Moodle, see here.)

Assignment alternatives

An assignment is a significant form of assessment, allowing students to demonstrate the understanding they have developed over a period of learning.

Many teachers struggle to break away from traditional essays and reports. As well as the assignment types available in core Moodle, there are some well constructed, contributed assignment types that are sure to lure the most ardent traditionalist away from “red pen on paper”.

  • Peer Review Assignment Type
  • NanoGong Assignment Type
  • UploadPDF Assignment Type

Using peer assessment


Peer Review

Module type Assignment type
Author Michael de Raadt
Released 2010
Maintained Actively
Languages English
Compliance Good
Documentation Online documentation, help files
Errors None displayed

Peer assessment can benefit students by causing them to evaluate the work of their peers. Evaluation is a higher order thinking skill, and requiring students to evaluate the work of others can enhance their learning experience. Other benefits are student involvement in the assessment process and the fact that they will receive more than just instructor feedback.

When used in conjunction with communication tools, peer assessment has the potential to encourage a learning community. This is particularly useful when students are studying in the Moodle environment, but physically separated from each other.

The Workshop module—a core Moodle module, was the first contributed Moodle module. It brought peer assessment to Moodle, exemplifying the constructivist nature that has driven Moodle development over the years. However, in recent years, the Workshop module has not been maintained, and is disabled by default in Moodle. The Workshop module is currently being revived for Moodle 2.0 and shows great promise.

Various peer assessment tools (outside Moodle) can reduce the quantity of marking for teachers, by relying on the student feedback as a basis for marking. This can be somewhat controversial when student feedback is the only source of grades. The Peer Review Assignment Type uses peer-feedback moderated by teachers as the basis for marks.

The Peer Review Assignment Type attempts to simplify the peer assessment experience of the Workshop module for both teachers and students. Only one deadline is needed (students can even submit late and still be involved); most students will submit then immediately move on to reviewing, while the assignment is fresh in their minds. The Peer Review Assignment Type manages the relationships between students automatically, so all the teacher has to do is set up the assignment, then moderate reviews after the assignment deadline.

Getting ready

Being an Assignment Type, you need to unzip the peerreview directory into the /moodle/mod/assignment/type/ directory before visiting the Notifications page.

How to do it…

Once installed, a Peer Review assignment can be added from the Add an activity… menu. You will find it nested below Assignments.

As it is an Assignment Type, the Peer Review Assignment Type has the same General settings as other Assignment Types (including a name, description, grade value, and due date). There are four settings specific to this Assignment Type listed in the Peer Review section of the configuration page.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

The first setting allows the teacher to decide if submissions will be in the form of a submitted file or text entered online in a WYSIWYG editor. If Submitted document is selected, the maximum file size and file type must be specified. These two settings should be made while keeping in mind that students will be downloading and reviewing each other’s documents. Keep the maximum file size as low as practically possible, otherwise file transfer problems may arise. A file type that all students can work with should be selected. So, for instance, if students have a mix of Office 2003, Office 2007, and OpenOffice, using the .doc file type would allow all students be able to open and review submitted documents.

Each student is expected to complete two reviews and this is seen as part of the learning experience. The final setting in this section allows a reward value to be set for each of the reviews the student completes.

With the assignment configuration complete, click on Save and Display and you will be taken to a page where review criteria can be written.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

On this page, the criteria descriptions and values can be set. Some help is provided on writing good criteria; this is worth reading.

For each criterion, you can enter a textual description that will appear to the student with the assignment description. This can include HTML tags if formatting is needed. For each criterion, a second alternate description can be provided, which can contain information that you want hidden from students before they submit (such as answers or test data); this is only shown to students as they complete reviews. A value also needs to be set for each criterion.

The values of criteria and the reward students will receive for completing reviews need to add up to the total grade value for the assignment. At the bottom of the Criteria page, there is a JavaScript driven calculator that indicates if values sum correctly.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

Once you have entered the criteria, save them and you will be taken to the description of the assignment showing the criteria added at the end. Students will also see a facility to submit a file, or a WYSIWYG editor if online-text is to be entered.

With the Description and the Criteria set, there is nothing to do until students have submitted and the assignment deadline has passed.

If you are running this Assignment Type on a test server and want to see how it works, you will need to set up at least five dummy student accounts and use these to submit assignments and complete reviews.

After students have submitted and completed reviews, they are shown a wealth of information about their submission, reviews they have conducted, and reviews they have received from their peers and teachers. Students have the opportunity to flag reviews they are unhappy with.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

When students have submitted and reviewed, it is the teacher’s job to resolve conflicts. The Peer Review Assignment Type shows a submission table, like other Assignment Types, but adds information about review relationships and conflicts.

(Move the mouse over the image to enlarge.)

The teacher must add additional “moderation” reviews to override reviews that are conflicting. The tail end of the submissions list must also be reviewed by the teacher if there are not sufficient reviews for the system to suggest a mark.

When conducting moderation reviews, the teacher is provided with information that students do not get to see. The teacher can see which criteria students have checked, and also the comments they have written about the submission currently being moderated. Teachers can see which student conducted each review and how long they spent reviewing. The teacher has access to a textbox, in which they can add and save comments to be re-used later. Multiple markers have access to this same saved comments list.

Moodle 1.9 Top Extensions Cookbook

When all conflicts are resolved, and all status indicators are green, the system is able to suggest marks for all students. These can be released individually or all at once by clicking the button labeled Set all unset calculatable grades at the bottom of the submissions list.

The Peer Review Assignment Type also includes an Analysis page which may be useful when refining an assignment for later re-use, or for teachers conducting research around assessment.

How it works…

The Peer Review Assignment Type achieves a simpler model of peer assessment by altering the way review relationships are allocated. With the Workshop module and other peer assessment systems, a phased approach is taken, with students submitting before one deadline, waiting for relationships to be arranged, then reviewing before another deadline. Such a phased model does not leave room for late submissions, and the delay while students wait for reviews may cause them to lose track of the context of the assignment.

With the Peer Review Assignment Type, there is an initial pooling period where early submitters must wait for more submissions to be made. When the fifth student submits, this triggers an event causing reviews to be allocated among the initial pool. When later students submit they are allocated earlier submissions to review, so these students can go directly from submission to reviewing without delay. This leaves some submissions at the tail end that require teacher moderation, however it also means late submitters can simply join the tail end.

Because of the review allocation method, only a single submission is permitted. Students are warned about this. If a student submits the wrong file, a teacher can replace their submission (and ensure the replacement is moderated).

There’s more…

The Peer Review Assignment Type can be used for teaching in a number of ways:

  • As an extension of a regular assignment
  • For a series of streamlined, small scale, focused assignments
  • As a draft stage review before a final submission (submitted as a normal, instructor marked assignment)

Outside regular teaching, the Peer Review Assignment Type could be used for the review of research papers submitted to a conference.


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