Implementing a course barometer in Moodle: A kludge

It’s the start of the second week of the course I’m teaching. I’m directly responsible for 60 odd on-campus students and 130 or so online/distance students. That split reminds me a lot of my teaching at CQU in the mid-1990s. The deja vu continues in terms of getting a feel for how the students are going, how are they responding to the course, its model and content? Back at CQU the solution was inspired by course barometer idea from some University folk in Sweeden.

The original course barometer was a purpose-built application in Webfuse, an “LMS” used at CQU from 1996 through 2009. This post records an initial attempt to recreate something simliar using standard Moodle 1.9 modules.


The barometer is meant to be a simple form that allows the students to

  • Indicate whether how they are feeling about the course at the moment: good, bad, or indifferent.
  • Provide some free-text comments to supplement the feeling.

Preferably this is done anonymously – previous research has shown that anonymity isn’t as important as doing something with the feedback – and would allow us to break up the students by campus/mode of study.

Some form of report should be generated to allow teaching staff to analyse student responses. One the nice list is a method for staff to respond.


Thanks to @markdrechsler and @mguhlin the Moodle tool possibilities (with links to Moodle 2.2 docs) are :

  • Choice,
    Appears that the choice module is limited to MCQs, but I do want the free text response.
  • Feedback,
    Looks like this could be the one.
  • Questionnaire (though apparently deprecated), and
    Doesn’t appear to be included in the USQ Moodle instance.
  • my original idea Quiz.
    As Mark suggested, having the concept of a “right” answer built into the quiz means it’s not great for the purpose of a barometer.

Place with feedback

Time to get familiar with what the Feedback module can do. Add a new Feedback activity and the form provides (which seem the same as those documented here)

  • Name and description.
  • Timed release of the activity.
  • An anonymous option – FTW.
  • Allow the students to see the analysis.
    There are two sides to this. Yes is good, allows students to get a sense for how others are going. No it is bad, because of the possibility of “bad” responses. I’ll go with yes.
  • Email notification of submissions.
    Will turn this one, will help mitigate the risk of “bad” responses.
  • Multiple submit – no.
  • It does allow separate groups.
    Wondering if this will provide the separation of students into the different modes.

Creating it’s a fairly simple process. Add the questions. Create a template (allow use of these same questions in other feedback activities). Away we go.

I do wonder if USQ automatically create student groups based on mode of study? And yes they do. And the Feedback module allows separation of students into groups.


Fairly simple to set up and even before I’d formally announced it, one student has submitted their first bit of feedback.

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