ICT in het Onderwijs

How do I create a mathematical question?

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The mathematics questions in Cirrus are based on the open type questions of Sowiso. We advise to make the questions in Sowiso and upload them to Cirrus.

Making a question

  1. Fill in the title of the question.
  2. Fill in the question.
  3. Add a resource or a madia file to the question.
  4. Fill in how many points can be received from this question.

You can use LaTeX in the textfields, see LaTeX in Cirrus for more information.

  1. Fill in the description of the solution. This is the description the student sees, not the solution that Cirrus uses to determine whether a student answer is correct.
  2. Fill in pre- and post input. This is text that is displayed right before or right after the input area (for example: x=... or ... meter).
  3. Under Solution you fill in the right answer(s).
    • Under Evaluation Type you choose how the answer of the student is compared to the answer definition.
    • Under Definition you define the solution. Cirrus uses Maxima to compare the definitions.
    • Under Answer fields you determine the answer field to which the solution rule applies.
    • Click on Add Solution if you want to add a solution rule.
  4. Add a solution if needed.
  5. Click on Save.
  6. Click on preview to see the question in exam style.

After saving you can select how many input fields there are (in other words how many parts the correct answer consists of). For each input field a separate pre- and post input can be defined, as well as a solution definition.

The evaluation type and the definition are used to determine whether the answer of the student was correct. For more information on the evaluation types visit the Cirrus website or the  Sowiso manual.


Navigate to the Variables tab (second tab).

Cirrus assessment
  1. Click on Add variable to add a new variable. Each variable gets a unique id assigned by Cirrus. For exampel $a. You can call this in every possible field. If a variable self- or circle refers you will get an error message.
  2. Use php or maxima to generate a variable.
    • You can write php code immediately in the definition field.
    • For php some restrictions apply. See the Sowiso manual for more information.
    • To compute maxima code you will need to call the Maxima environment first, for example with sw_maxima().
  3. Choose the numbers of decimals your variable uses (not required).
  4. Save the variable definitions.

The specified number of decimals only determines the amount of decimal numbers displayed. Not the amount of numbers stored. Consider this when defining the answer.

The error messages of Cirrus are very limited and concise, those of Sowiso more elaborate and insightful. We therefore advice you to create the exercises in Sowiso. If you would like to receive example exercises, contact ICT in Education.

Negative Feedback

  • Navigate to Negative Feedback (third tab).
Cirrus assessment
  1. Define the answer to which the negative feedback applies. You define this the same way as  the solution definition.
  2. Use Priority to determine the order in which the feedback rules are evaluated. Cirrus considers the lowest integers first. Two feedback rules may not share the same priority.
  3. Determine the Answer fields to which the feedback rule applies.
  4. Choose the correct Evaluation type. You define this the same way as the solution definition.
  5. Check the Test usage box to let the feedback rule influence the students grade. Give the percentage (as a multiple of 10) that the student still gets for this answer field if the feedback rule applies.

Cirrus checks the Negative feedback if the student has provided a false answer. You can use this to give the student points if the wrong answer satisfies certain conditions. If the answer satisfies no negative feedback rule the student gets zero points.

Positive feedback

Navigate to Positive feedback (fourth tab).

You define positive feedback exactly the same as negative feedback.

Cirrus compares the answer of the student with the positive feedback if the students answer was correct. You can use this to withdraw points under certain conditions. If the answer does not satisfy any positive feedback rule the student gets full points.

If a feedback rule is applied, this does not change the way the students see their result in the perusal. The amount of allocated points is the only way to check whether the feedback rule was correctly applied.

Question Set

Navigate to Question set (fifth tab).

Cirrus assessment

You use question sets to ask multiple questions using the same variables.

  1. Click Add to add a question.
    • Make this question the same way as before. All the variables from the previous exercise are saved and use the same name as before.
  2. Save the question set.
  3. Preview the question set to make sure all the variables remained the same.
LaTeX in Cirrus

It is possible to use LaTeX in almost all textfields in Cirrus. 

  1. You open the LaTeX math environment with a # or a \( for inline TeX and \[ for centered TeX on a new line. 
  2. You close the math environment using #, \) or \] respectively.

Cirrus has some macros in use. These are the same as the ones in SOWISO. You can find a list in the SOWISO manual.

All the usual AMSmath and AMSsymbols are supported.

One of the more useful examples of a SOWISO macro is  \lineqs{a\cdot x+b\cdot y &=& 0 \cr d\cdot x + e \cdot y &=& f \cdot z \cr} .

Cirrus and Sowiso use Mathjax to display LaTeX.

Advanced options

The candidates can use the workout box to clarify their provided answer. These notes will be stored and can be viewed during the marking process.

Select Allow workout box for candidates to allow candidates to have the possibility to argue or calculate their answer.

While compiling the exam you have the option to allow the workoutbox for all questions, none or the selected questions. Please discuss your preferences with the faculty coordinator.

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