Cirrus Hidden Gems – Item and Assessment Versioning

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Third time’s the charm here with our Hidden Gems series, and we’re here to announce a very charming feature, indeed – Item and Assessment Versioning.  In this article, we will explain what it is, what the benefits are to you, and links to learn more about how it works in our platform. Let’s dive in! 

What it is

Understanding the importance of continuous improvement and flexibility in your exams, we developed this feature to allow major changes to live items. Educators and administrators can improve, update, or adjust questions for upcoming exams without losing any valuable statistical data.

This ‘Hidden Gems’ contains two primary features:

Item Versioning

Sometimes, mistakes happen, or things need to be added, altered, and updated in your items.  Item versioning is the Hidden Gem you’re looking for. It pertains to managing major and minor modifications in your items in an assessment context, where versions represent significant changes (such as changes that alter the psychometric data of the item) to live items, and revisions symbolise smaller tweaks. The type of change (revision or version) is also determined by whether the item is live and used in an assessment schedule, with alterations to live items creating new versions, while changes to non-live items generate revisions.

Actions that do not initiate a new version are:

  • Adding a new alternative to an item that is currently in draft status
  • Altering the question text when an item is in the ‘Ready for review’ stage
  • Making changes to an item that is ‘Live’ but hasn’t been used in an assessment
  • Changing the status of a draft item to ‘Ready for review’

Actions that do trigger the creation of a new version include:

  • Modifying the score associated with an item
  • Altering the number of alternatives by adding or deleting options
  • Making changes to the correct answer alternative
  • Changing the seed item status (either enabling or disabling it)
  • Modifying the scoring method from dichotomous to polytomous scoring, or vice versa
  • Changing the maximum number of options that candidates can select
  • Making alterations to a live item that has already been answered by candidates

Assessment Versioning

If you’ve made significant changes to items in an exam, or you need to change options (such as allotted time for an exam) in an exam, Assessment Versioning in Cirrus enables the creation of different iterations of an assessment, each reflecting a unique set of changes.

When you go to your assessment history, a green arrow will indicate the current version that is live, with ‘draft’ indicating the version you are currently revising. When an assessment is updated and published, the green arrow will move to the recent version, and existing schedules automatically use the latest published version *if published up to 20 minutes before the start of the schedule, ensuring that test-takers always access the most recent version of the assessment.

*And we can’t stress this enough! All changes and updates MUST occur at least 20 minutes before the start of an exam.

The Perks

With Item Versioning, you will enjoy these benefits:

Increased control and tracking

Users can make changes to items based on their status – creating a revision for unused items and a version for live, used items. This allows for comprehensive tracking and control over item modifications, with each change either leading to a new revision or version, thus keeping a clear record of changes made over time.

Enhanced assessment integrity 

Notifications warn users when changes might create a new version of a live item, thus preserving the integrity of exams. This feature ensures that significant changes do not disrupt live assessments unexpectedly, thereby safeguarding the quality and consistency of the assessments.

Detailed revision history and comments

Users have access to a detailed revision history and can provide comments on each item. This functionality not only provides an audit trail of changes but also facilitates collaboration and communication among your team of authors, improving the overall item creation and revision process.

With Assessment Versioning, expect these benefits:

Up-to-date assessments

The automatic adoption of the latest published version of an assessment ensures that scheduled assessments always reflect the most recent changes. This feature ensures the timely incorporation of revisions, maintaining the relevancy and accuracy of the assessments.

Access to version history and performance statistics

Users can view the version history of an assessment, including performance statistics per version. This visibility allows users to track changes over time and understand the impact of different versions on assessment performance, aiding in refining future versions.

Edit-lock feature

While an assessment is being edited, it is locked for others, preventing conflicting changes. This functionality enhances the collaboration process and ensures the integrity of the changes being made.

Assessment Overview

On May 30th, we rolled out the upgraded assessment overview table, introducing a suite of new features to optimise your assessment management process. We have added an extra column in the ‘Assessments Overview’ clearly labelling assessments requiring updates due to modifications in their items.  We also added the ability to ‘update and publish’ assessments in bulk. We go over this in more detail in our ‘Cirrus Software Update’

In essence, our latest ‘Hidden Gems’ – Item and Assessment Versioning is a powerful tool designed to improve your exam process by empowering you with more control, flexibility, and peace of mind.

How to stay informed

To learn more about these new features, you can access the following knowledge base articles: Item Versioning and Assessment Versioning

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Mathijs Urbanus
Mathijs Urbanus
Mathijs heads up Cirrus' Customer Support Team. With his technical expertise and experience helping our diverse customers get the most out of Cirrus, he knows the platform like no other.
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