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SBA Settings

Create SBA activity

Creating a new SBA is a two-step process. In the first step, you create the SBA activity and set its options which specify the rules for interacting with the SBA. In the second step, you add questions to the SBA.

  • In the course where you want your SBA, turn on the editing, and from the Activity Chooser, select 'SBA'.


Add a name here (which students will click on to access the SBA) and, if desired, a description of what they must do.


Open the SBA: You can specify times when the SBA is accessible for people to make attempts. Before the opening time, the SBA will be unavailable to students. They will be able to view the SBA introduction but will not be able to view the questions. SBAs with start times in the future display both the open and close dates for students.

Close the SBA: After the closing time, the students will not be able to start new attempts. Answers that the student submits after the SBA closing date will be saved but they will not be marked. Even after the SBA has closed students will still be able to see the SBA description and review their attempts. What exactly they will see depends on the settings you choose for review options (see below).

Mark Missing: If this date is enabled, students who did not submit any attempt will be marked missing after this date is passed. If the date had been enabled but later disabled, the students' missing grade will be reverted to "no grade".

Time limit: By default, SBAs do not have a time limit, which allows students as much time as they need to complete the quiz. If you do specify a time limit, several things are done to try and ensure that SBAs are completed within that time:

Navigation block showing quiz timer

  1. A countdown timer is shown in the quiz navigation block

  2. When the timer has run out, the quiz is submitted automatically with whatever answers have been filled in so far

  3. If a student manages to cheat and goes over the allotted time, no marks are awarded for any answers entered after the time ran out

When time expires: There are three options as to what will happen when the time limit is up. Choose the one you need from the drop-down menu:

  1. Open attempts are submitted automatically

  2. There is a grace period when open attempts can be submitted, but no more questions are answered

  3. Attempts must be submitted before time expires, or they are not counted

If you select "There is a grace period..." then you can check the box to enable the "Submission grace period" and specify a period of time during which learners may still submit the SBA after the time is up.

Note: You can change SBA availability and duration for different groups of users in the Group or User override sections in SBA administration.


Grade category: If you have categories in your grade book, select the one you wish the SBA to be in here.

Attempts allowed: Students may be allowed to have multiple attempts at an SBA. This can help make the process of taking the SBA more of an educational activity rather than simply an assessment.

Note: You can change the allowed number of attempts for different groups or users in the Group or User override sections of the SBA Administration settings block.

Grade to pass: Here you can set a passing grade for the SBA. This may be connected with Activity completion and Conditional activities such that a student will not be able to access a follow-up activity until they have passed the SBA.

Grading method: When multiple attempts are allowed, there are different ways you can use the grades to calculate the student's final grade for the SBA.

  • Highest grade - the final grade is the highest (best) grade in any attempt

  • Average grade - the final grade is the average (simple mean) grade of all attempts

  • First grade - the final grade is the grade earned on the first attempt (other attempts are ignored)

  • Last grade - the final grade is the grade earned on the most recent attempt only


New page: For longer SBAs it makes sense to stretch the SBA over several pages by limiting the number of questions per page. When adding questions to the SBA, page breaks will automatically be inserted according to the setting you choose here. However, you will also be able to move page breaks around by hand later on the editing page. Note that changing this setting has no effect on questions you have already added to the SBA. The setting will only apply to questions you add subsequently. To change the page breaks in an existing SBA, you need to go to the SBA editing screen, tick the 'Show page breaks' checkbox, then use the repaginate control.

if you are administering paper-based SBA and planning to print out the questions, the layout must be "all questions on one page".

If you have any questions that use many high-definition images and the server suffers performance issues, showing only one question per page is easier on the server than showing many (or all) questions on one page.

Navigation method (available by clicking Show More). Choose Sequential instead of Free, if you want to force the student to progress through the questions in order and not go back to a previous question or skip to a later one.

Question behavior

How questions behave

The following question behaviors are available when creating a quiz (also when previewing questions):

Deferred feedback: Students must enter an answer to each question and then submit the entire quiz before anything is graded or they get any feedback. Adaptive mode and Adaptive mode (no penalties) Allow students to have multiple attempts at the question before moving on to the next question. This behavior requires that the "Whether correct" box is ticked under "During the attempt" in the "Review options" section, at a minimum.

Manual grading: Used for essay questions (irrespective of what the quiz is set to) but you can now choose to have every question in the quiz manually graded if you wish.

Interactive with multiple tries: After submitting one answer, and reading the feedback, the student has to click a 'Try again' button before they can try a new response. They can be given hints to help them. Once the student has got the question right, they can no longer change their response. Once the student has got the question wrong too many times, they are just graded wrong (or partially correct) and get shown the feedback and can no longer change their answer. There can be different feedback after each tries the student makes. The number of tries the student gets is the number of hints in the question definition plus one.

Immediate feedback: Similar to interactive mode in that the student can submit their response immediately during the quiz attempt, and get it graded. However, they can only submit one response, they cannot change it later. Deferred feedback or Immediate feedback with

Certainty-based marking (CBM): With CBM, the student does not only answer the question, but they also indicate how sure they are they got the question right. The grading is adjusted by the choice of certainty so that students have to reflect honestly on their own level of knowledge in order to get the best mark.

Conditional questions: If using the Interactive with multiple tries or Immediate Feedback behavior and with the navigation method set to 'Free', it is possible to make the display of a question dependent on a previous question being answered first. The question editing page will display padlock icons to the right of each question.

Allow redo within an attempt (available by clicking "Show more")

If using Interactive or Immediate feedback mode, enabling this setting means students can try a question again even if they have used up their allowed attempts. This is helpful if they wish to learn from the feedback given at the end of their attempts. They will be given a different question from the one they were working on previously if there are other questions available. A student's grade for that question slot is based on the most recent question they have started.

Each attempt builds on the last (available by clicking "Show more")

If multiple attempts are allowed and this setting is set to Yes, then each new attempt contains the results of the previous attempt. This allows the student on the new attempt to concentrate on just those questions that were answered incorrectly on the previous attempt. If this option is chosen then each attempt by a particular student uses the same questions in the same order, independent of randomization settings. To show a fresh SBA on every attempt, select No for this setting.

Review options

(These settings are collapsed by default)

This section controls what information students will be shown when they review their past attempts at the SBA, and during the attempt in adaptive mode. It is a matrix with checkboxes.

The various pieces of information that can be controlled are:

The attempt: Will show how the student responded to each question.

Whether correct: Displays whether the student's response to each question is correct or incorrect.

Marks: Reveals the marks awarded to the student and the grade for the SBA.

Specific feedback: Will show the feedback for the response to the answer as set when adding the question to the SBA. Each response to a question can have feedback for both correct and incorrect answers.

General feedback: Displays the general feedback for the whole question as set when adding the question to the SBA. You can use the general feedback to give students some background to what knowledge the question was testing.

Right answer: Reveals the correct answer to each question, whether the student answered correctly or not (See note below).

Overall feedback: Displays feedback for the entire SBA as set in the SBA settings (See note below).

For each of the above items, you can determine the timeframe when the students will see them:

During the attempt is only available when ‘How questions behave’ has been set to ‘Immediate feedback’, ‘Immediate feedback with CBM’, and ‘Interactive with multiple tries. If set to one of these options then a ‘Check’ button will appear below the answer and when clicked the student will submit that response and then receive immediate feedback.

Immediately after the attempt means within 2 minutes of the student clicking "submit all and finish".

Later, while the SBA is still open means after 2 minutes, but before the close date (if the SBA does not have a close date, this phase never ends).

After the SBA is closed means what it says (you never get here for SBAs without a close date).

Tip: Checking any of the boxes in the timeframe row, will reveal the test to the student. For example, to allow students to see their quiz immediately after taking it but not later, make sure none of the boxes in "Later" or "After" rows are checked. The student will be able to see their grade but not get into the quiz.

Note: Currently, the Answers display is a bit inconsistent between different question types. For example, the matching question type shows students which of their responses are correct but does not tell them the right answer for the ones they got wrong. The short answer and multiple choices question types do tell the student what the correct answer is.

Users with the capability of ‘View hidden grades’ (typically teachers and administrators) are not affected by these settings and will always be able to review all information about a student's attempt at any time.

In your list of review options, you must have 'The attempt' (the first option in the lists) selected before you can enable the options to show 'Whether correct', 'Specific feedback', 'General feedback', and 'Right answer. If you choose not to let the students review the attempt, your only options are to display 'Marks' and 'Overall feedback.


Show the user's picture: It is now possible, when displaying the user's profile picture for proctoring purposes, to choose whether a large image or thumbnail will be displayed.

Decimal places in grades: This option determines how many digits will be shown after the decimal separator when the grade is displayed. A setting of 0 for example means that the grades are displayed as integers. This setting is only used for the display of grades, not for the display or marking of answers.

Extra restrictions on attempts

🆕 Block extra attempts if passing grade: If you allowed multiple attempts for your SBA and you want your students to try until they achieve a passing grade, this setting needs to be “yes”. Or another scenario would be: you gave only one attempt and you want to give your failing students another chance. You can increase the number of attempts, change this setting to “yes” and extend the open date (if closed). That way, only your failing students will be allowed a second attempt. Please note that you must specify a value for “grade to pass” in the Grade section of the SBA setting in order for this feature to work. You should also check the question behavior setting, “each attempt builds on the last”, as it becomes very important when you have multiple attempts for the SBA.

Once the attempt is submitted, the below messages will be shown for students who achieved a passing grade or failed one respectively.

Require password: If you specify a password here then participants must enter the same password before they are allowed to make an attempt on the SBA. This is useful to give only a selected group of students access to the SBA. If you have many users taking one simultaneous SBA, it may help to assign a very long password to the SBA, so that the load on the server is spread over time (see this forum thread).

Require network address: You can restrict access for an SBA to particular subnets on the LAN or Internet by specifying a comma-separated list of partial or full IP address numbers. This is especially useful for a proctored (invigilated) SBA, where you want to be sure that only people in a certain room are able to access the SBA. For example 192.168. ,,

There are three types of numbers you can use (you can not use text-based domain names like

  1. Full IP addresses, such as will match a single computer (or proxy).

  2. Partial addresses, such as 192.168 will match anything starting with those numbers.

  3. CIDR notation, such as allows you to specify more detailed subnets.

Please contact your school's IT personnel before restricting an SBA based on the network address.

Enforced delay between attempts: You can set a time (from seconds to weeks) between the first and second attempts of an SBA. You can also (or alternatively) set a time from seconds to weeks for subsequent attempts after the second attempt. Thus, you might allow a student to take the SBA twice immediately with no delay, but if they want to improve their score with a third attempt, they are forced to wait a week and use the time for an extra revision.

Browser security: This is by default an advanced field, visible by clicking "Show advanced".The options in this section offer various ways to try to restrict how students may try to 'cheat' while attempting an SBA. However, this is not a simple issue, and what in one situation is considered 'cheating' may, in another situation, just be an effective use of information technology. (For example, the ability to quickly find answers using a search engine.)

Note also that this is not just a problem of technology with a technical solution. Cheating has been going on since long before computers, and while computers make certain actions, like copy and paste, easier, they also make it easier for teachers to detect cheating - for example using the SBA reports. The options provided here are not fool-proof, and while they do make some forms of cheating harder for students, they also make it more inconvenient for students to attempt the SBAs, and they are not fool-proof.

A full-screen pop-up with some JavaScript security: There is a limit to what the SBA, which runs on a web server, can do to restrict what the student sitting at their computer can do while attempting the SBA. However, this option does what is possible:

The SBA will only start if the student has a JavaScript-enabled web browser. The SBA appears in a full-screen pop-up window that covers all the other windows and has no course navigation controls. (However, it is impossible for a web site to create a browser window that cannot be minimized or moved aside.)The students are prevented, as far as possible, from using facilities like copy and paste.

Require the use of Safe Exam Browser: This option will only appear if your administrator has enabled it in Site administration > Development > Experimental > Experimental settings.

Safe Exam Browser is a customized web browser that must be downloaded and installed on the computer that the student uses to attempt the SBA. It restricts students' use more effectively than a pop-up window option. Features include full screen, without web navigation options, shortcut keys including copy and paste are disabled and of course surfing the web during an exam.

Overall Feedback

The overall feedback is shown to a student after they have completed an attempt at the SBA. The text that is shown can depend on the grade the student got. Click "Show editing tools" to display the rich text editor, and drag the bottom right of the text box out to expand it.

For example, if you entered:

Grade boundary: 100%

Feedback: "Well done"

Grade boundary: 40%

Feedback: "Please study this week's work again"

Grade boundary: 0%

Then students who score between 100% and 40% will see the "Well done" message, and those who score between 39.99% and 0% will see "Please study this week's work again". That is, the grade boundaries define ranges of grades, and each feedback string is displayed to scores within the appropriate range.

Grade boundaries can be specified either as a percentage, for example, "31.41%", or as a number, for example, "7". If your SBA is out of 10 marks, a grade boundary of 7 means 7/10 or better.

Note that the maximum and minimum grade boundaries (100% and 0%) are set automatically.

You can set as many or as few grade boundaries as you wish. The form allows you up to 5 ranges at first, but you can add more by clicking the "Add 3 fields to form" button underneath.

If you're getting confusing error messages about a boundary being out of sequence (when it's obviously *in* sequence), or "boundaries must be between 0% and 100%" (and they are) -- check that the Maximum Grade for this SBA is set to something greater than zero.

SBA completion

The following automatic activity completion conditions apply to the SBA:

Require view - the student clicks on the SBA to view it

Require grade - the student obtains a grade.

Require a passing grade - a 'Grade to pass' is specified for the SBA in the grade book.

All available attempts completed - a certain number of attempts were allowed on the SBA and the student has completed them all.

Group and User overrides

Dates, timing and number of allowed attempts may be changed for individual users or groups by following the links Group Overrides or User Overrides in SBA administration. In situations where two group overrides may apply to a single user, the most lenient date is used. For "Open the SBA" dates, this means the earliest possible date is used, for "Close the SBA" dates, this means that the latest possible date is used Note also that if there exists a user override for a student, it will always take precedence over any group overrides.

Group overrides

To change an SBA setting for a particular group, click the "add group override" button in SBA Administration>Group overrides, make the changes you wish and save or enter another override.

User overrides

To change an SBA setting for a single user, click the "add user override" button in SBA > User overrides page, make the changes you wish and save or enter another override. With overrides, you can add extra attempts, and extend the close date, or time limit for single student.

Site administration settings

The SBA module has additional settings that may be changed by an administrator in Site administration > Plugins > Activity modules > SBA.

The time period settings for an SBA (such as time limit, submission grace period, autosave period, and so on) can be set here with a duration of seconds, minutes, hours, days, or weeks. These defaults will then be used when new SBAs are created.

Autosave period If enabled, student responses will be saved at a regular period according to the selection here. the default is one minute. This is useful so that students don't lose work but does increase the load on the server.

How questions behave can be configured in Site administration > Plugins > Question behaviors> Manage question behaviors.

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