What is a question variant?

A question variant is a differently worded instance of a question addressing the same knowledge element. Variants of a single questions may be completely different, but still cover the same knowledge element.

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What does Drillster do with question variants?

Drillster repeats questions and instructions. This secures and maintains top-of-mind knowledge. Questions are repeated literally, unless the drill contains question variants.

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What is the didactic value of question variants?

Aside from factual knowledge the introduction of question variants make it easier to use Drillster to train the application of knowledge. Think of the application of knowledge in case studies or calculations, the ability to use grammar rules in a language test, or the ability to identify the correct behaviors in the fields of security, hygiene or integrity.

The Drillster question selection algorithm remains unchanged. This means that the level of question repetition is the same. However, if there are sufficient question variants available, literal repetition is minimized.

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Does this put an end to literal repetition?

The more question variants are produced, the smaller the chance of literal repetition. Since drills are never really finished, there is still a chance of literal repetition over time. It is up to the drill’s author to determine how desirable it is to avoid literal repetition.

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To ensure the quality of knowledge retention, the use of question variants must satisfy a couple of conditions:

  • There is no ordering or qualitative difference in the question variants. Drillster will randomly select questions from the set of variants. If a particular variant has already been presented to a user, any repetitions will as much as possible be taken from other variants. The level of unpredictability is important in order to guarantee that knowledge is actually retained and correctly memorized.
  • Any feedback should be identical as much as possible for each of the question variants. It is still possible to use distinct feedback values for each variant, but since the variants all cover the same knowledge element, the feedback should probably be the same.
  • If a given question has two variants, and a user has incorrectly answered one of them, the question will be repeated. This means that it is possible that one of the variants is repeated literally. If there are three or four variants of that question, the chance of literal repetition is lowered significantly (unless users continue to answer these variant questions incorrectly).
  • By adding question variants it will not take longer to reach 100% proficiency for a drill. There will be a decrease of literal repetition, but on average the number of questions asked will be the same.
  • Question variants may come in all shapes. For example, one variant might be a multiple choice question, and another may be an open ended question, or a set or sequence question. But it remains important that each variant covers exactly the same knowledge element. This is crucial for Drillster to provide accurate insight into the user’s true knowledge levels.
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How can question variants be added to my drill?

Questions are entered into the system in the usual way, either manually via the drill editor or via the upload function or API.

If you check the boxes of the questions that you would like to mark as equal questions, you see some buttons appear at the top of the drill editor. You can choose to mark the questions as equals. The questions are grouped and placed within a box frame. The questions are now variants and will be treated as equals when practising the drill.

The same can be done when a question has to be taken out of the set of question variants. Just check the box of the question and mark it as unequal. The question will not be deleted but placed as an individual question in the drill.

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How do question variants affect the score?

Variants of a question are regarded as one single question in terms of scoring.

It is possible to link questions as variants in existing drills with existing user scores. In that case the new combined score will be the average of each individual question score. Initially there will not be a difference in score after linking questions as variants. However, since there are now fewer unique knowledge elements in the drill, the proficiency level will rise quicker.

If new question variants are added to existing questions, and the total number of questions remains the same, there will be no impact to existing scores.

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Is the number of question variants restricted?

It is possible to add an unlimited number of question variants for each question. All of this is done within the drill editor.

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Can I upload question variants through a CSV template?

The existing template that can be used to upload drill content cannot yet be used to define question variants. However, it is still possible to upload these variants as individual questions through the CSV template, and manually link the questions into variants using the drill editor.

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Will I see the question variants in the ‘difficult/easy entries’ report?

If a question has several question variants, we will only show the first available question variant in the ‘difficult/easy entries’ report. All variants have an equal didactic value so the information on the first question shall provide all information you need to analyse which elements of the learning material are considered difficult or easy by an individual or group.

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How does Drillster treat question variants in a test?

When creating a test, Drillster treats the question variants as individual questions. Each variant has equal chance to be presented in the test.

If you would like to present only selected questions in a test, we advice you to add a line tag to those questions that you would like to use in the test. Adding line tags can be done in the drill editor. You can then define the test using the line tags via the test matrix.

For more information about question variants you can always contact the Drillster Support desk at support@drillster.com.

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