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See also: Feedback (UI guideline)

Feedback Development

The Feedback module available at written by Andreas Grabs is being considered for inclusion into Moodle 2.0. A couple of issues that that have come up for discussion among developers and users include how to handle the anonymity of completed responses and converting the feedback items (i.e. questions) to use the Moodle question database.


Anthony Borrow has begun working on a series of hacks to handle anonymity differently. Andreas had programmed the module to record the userid as 0 for anonymous responses. Anthony's hacks record the userid but does not display the user name when showing results. The advantage to this approach is that feedback results for anonymous feedbacks now can be viewed by group. In addition, the completion of a feedback creates a log entry for that user. While this does limit the anonymity it provides some of the accountability sometimes necessary in schools.

Anthony created 2 additional fields in the feedback_completed table called random_response and anonymous_response (random_response and anonymous_response).

The random_response field holds the response number of the anonymous entry. In order to prevent the anonymous entries from constantly shuffling as they were being viewed Anthony created the random_response field. If there is an anonymous entry with no assigned response number then the array of anonymous responses is shuffled and stepped through to assign new numbers which prevents the newer entries from always being at the end.

The anonymous_response field holds the anonymity status of that particular response. If it is 1 (the default) then it is an anonymous response. If it is 2 (as previously defined by Andreas in \feedback\lib.php) then it is not anonymous.

To accomplish this, changes were made to the following files:

/feedback/lib.php /feedback/view.php /feedback/completed.php /feedback/show_entries.php /feedback/show_entries_anonym.php /lang/en_utf8/feedback.php

Andreas Grabs indicates that he plans to incorporate Anthony's hacks into the Feedback module as well as touching up so other issues.

Anthony has not created an additional submit button for non-anonymous surveys to give the student an option of submitting the survey anonymously. It would require creating another feedback setting such as Allow Anonymous. Alternatively, we could have 4 different settings. Anonymous (as I have defined anonymous with the userid being stored in the feedback_completed table but user names not showing on response views), Non-anonymous (all completed feedback responses are recorded with the userid and the user's name is shown when viewing results), Allow anonymous (userids are stored in the feedback_completed table; however, the user is given the option to submit the results anonymously so that the user's name will not be displayed when viewing the responses), and Strictly anonymous (userids are not stored in the feedback_completed table and logs are not kept of who completes the survey). For secondary education, I can see where on an administratively level it may be desirable to have a setting for the Moodle site administrator to determine whether complete anonymity is possible because for reasons of accountability it is important to be able to track what contributions a user makes (even and sometimes especially if they are negative ones). This ability to hold a student or teacher accountable seems part of the social constructivist pedagogy in that students and others can learn from one another's mistakes or lapses of judgment so total anonymity may not be desirable.

Questions versus Items

MartinD has suggested that the Moodle question database ought to be used for feedback items. However, Andreas has mentioned some good points as to why we may want to consider leaving the feedback items as separate from the Moodle question database:

  1. questions for feedback do acquire data for evaluation. For example it does not make sense to define percents for right or false answers.
  2. not all types of quiz-questions are useable for feedback. For example how should a teacher use the cloze-questiontype for feedback?
  3. How should the questions to be structured? How a teacher can differ quiz-questions from feedback-questions?
  4. If there is a need for more plausibility checks so it is easy to create new items. For example you ease can develop a date-item and so on.
  5. Now the main thing: Many users use the feedback-module due to the fact that it is so easy to use. Questions can be created very easy.

I think the questions database is a great feature to use with quizzes or lessons but not for feedback