Two little known software gems available at University of Alberta

Respondus & StudyMate are two pieces of software centrally supported by IST, available for all instructors and staff at the University of Alberta via Google Drive. The campus version of Respondus has been customized to facilitate the link between Respondus and eClass.

These two apps, Respondus and StudyMate, only run on Windows; however, both are user-friendly and can help reduce the time required to create quizzes and exams for both online and face-to-face assessments.


Respondus helps to build a question bank that can be sorted and used as needed. However, Respondus is more than a simple repository of questions; it is a tool that can help to organize questions according to specific subjects, lessons, or even learning outcomes.

You can create different types of questions, from multiple choice with variances to calculated questions using variables, functions, and operators. You can also copy questions from another file, which is a useful feature when a group of people creates questions. Respondus can extract the questions from each file and compile them in a single file.

When you create a question, you might want to think about the question identifier or question title.  You can name your question using generic and meaningless terms such as question 1, 2, etc. However, if your intention is to build a large and robust question bank, you might need to provide a title that identifies the lesson and question number, to facilitate the sorting process by modules or lessons. For example, Lesson1Q001, Lesson5Q254, etc.

We tested Respondus in a large question bank with more than 600 questions, identified by lessons, objectives, and other rankings.  The questions included graphics, pictures, and diagrams in the questions themselves as well as the answers. The process to create the question bank was time-consuming, but it was compensated by generating a large number of exams from the question bank in minutes. Each exam has randomized questions. In fact, we can create one exam per student if needed.

You can create your question bank in advance or during the summer, and every time you teach and need to build an exam, you only need to revise your question bank, add or modify questions, and proceed to create “random blocks” and “forms”.

A random block is a number of questions selected. For instance, you can pick a few questions from each class subject and provide the weight of each question, as well as how many you need from that block. If you select 20 questions in a block, you can decide to use only five from that block and the system will randomize the selection. All blocks compose an exam or a quiz, and you can save in Word format for face-to-face exams or you can publish directly on eClass using the Preview and Publish tab.

The second piece of software, StudyMate, can create a learning activity, such as a flashcards exercise, from the same question bank file used to generate exams with Respondus.



Mauricio Rivera-Quijano, Ed. Developer.

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