UNF Center for Instruction and Research Technology

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Unpacking New Quizzes: Farewell Question Banks, Hello Item Banks!

Online Learning Support


For instructors, crafting engaging and effective quizzes is a constant quest. We strive to assess student learning accurately while keeping the process efficient. While Question Banks have served us well, Item Banks are a powerful new tool poised to revolutionize your quiz creation experience with Canvas New Quizzes.

What's Wrong with Question Banks?

Instructors familiar with Canvas’ Classic Quizzes will recognize and appreciate the value of Question Banks for storing and reusing assessment questions. Question Banks function as centralized repositories for questions inside of an individual Canvas course. Instructors create and store questions within these banks, and then they add them to individual assessments using a Question Group the Find a Question feature of Classic Quizzes. Admittedly, while this approach has various benefits for faculty and their assessments, Question Banks also have a few limitations.

  • Question Banks are limited to an individual Canvas Course. Therefore, they need to be either created anew with each new semester start, or they can be copied over from a previous semester. This limitation often leads to Question Banks being duplicated or links being broken when course contents are copied forward.
  • Question Banks are not easily modified if an edit to a question needs to be made once the quiz is underway, and sharing Question Banks between colleagues is not very straightforward.
  • Instructors have limited control over which questions appear and cannot randomize selections within the bank. Additionally, Question Banks lack robust organizational features. While you can name banks, there is no way to categorize questions by topic, difficulty, or learning outcomes. This can lead to cluttered banks and difficulty finding specific questions.

What's New with Item Banks?

Item Banks in New Quizzes offer a more robust and versatile approach to managing your assessment resources. This new tool builds upon the foundation already created by Question Banks and improves the faculty experience by offering a new, comprehensive, and flexible solution to instructional assessment needs.

  • Ditch the scattered question banks across numerous, individual courses! Item Banks act as a centralized repository for all your quiz questions. No more copying over question banks from one course to another or  worrying about broken links. Instead, faculty can assign question banks from a master Item Bank Library. This makes creating new quizzes and editing a breeze.
  • Item Banks can be easily shared with other Canvas users, fostering collaboration and consistency in assessments while allowing instructors to leverage each other’s expertise when building question pools.
  • Item Banks allow instructors to create tags for categorizing questions. This enables instructors to meticulously organize their question pool according to subject matter, difficulty level, or course learning objectives. Building a well-organized bank simplifies finding specific questions and facilitates building targeted quizzes.
  • Item Banks unlock a new level of quiz control and advance customization for assigning question banks to an assessment. Instructors can define the number of questions drawn from the bank, set weights for specific questions to influence difficulty levels, and even design mastery quizzes that adapt based on student performance.

How do I Make the Switch?

While Canvas currently does not offer a direct Question Bank to Item Bank migration tool as it does with regular quiz assessments, CIRT is aware of two workarounds for converting Question Banks to Item Banks. The first option is to utilize the Migrate to New Quizzes feature. If your Classic Quiz already has a Question Bank linked to the assessment, Canvas will migrate the Question Bank to an Item Bank while converting the assessment from Classic to New Quizzes.

The second option is a bit more complex. The process involves creating a new Classic Quiz and adding all questions from your desired Question Bank(s) as Question Groups. This allows you to use the Migration Tool to convert multiple Question Banks at the same time. Visit our support doc titled New Quizzes / Migration for step-by-step directions on both of these methods. 

Ready to Get Started?

Item Banks are a game-changer for instructors. By streamlining quiz creation, promoting collaboration, and fostering a more engaging and unbiased assessment experience, they allow you to focus on what matters most: student learning. So, embrace the power of Item Banks, and transform your quiz game into a powerful tool for student success! If you’re ready to get started, CIRT is ready to help. Reach out to us via email (cirtlab@unf.edu) to request New Quizzes migration support.

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Joseph Stewart
CIRT | Coord. Online Learning Support