Happy New Year, and welcome to the first PhysQuiz.net newsletter! I’ve included lots of important updates about PhysQuiz.net:
- *NEW* Progress saving feature for students!
- *NEW* Browser tab switch tracking!
- *NEW* Exam assignment mode!
- Lots of bug fixes & new features
- Updated pricing for PhysQuiz.net Dashboard site licenses
Thanks for supporting PhysQuiz.net
I wanted to start out by thanking everyone for supporting PhysQuiz.net in its very first year of existence! I’ve been wanting to write online practice quizzes for my AP Physics 2 since I first launched ChemQuiz.net in 2020, so I finally set aside time this past summer to write twenty-three new physics practice quizzes to go with the eight from ChemQuiz.net that are commonly used in high school Physics classes. I like to think of these quizzes as “first editions” that I plan on improving on as I get feedback from teachers and students who use them, so please reach out and let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement!
I’ve made a number of improvements to the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard in the past several months that I wanted to highlight in this newsletter, so if you subscribe to the ChemQuiz.net newsletter, you may have already seen these!
*NEW* Progress saving feature
In addition to the new Exams feature that I added last month, a highly requested feature has been to allow students to save their progress while they’re working on an assignment so that they don’t lose their answers so far. Teachers can now activate the “Save progress” feature on any assignment they create on the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard by checking this box:
Once activated (it’s off by default), this feature will display a green “Save your progress” button at the bottom of each assignment:
Progress will then be saved for the next 30 days, after which it will be cleared out. Students must be logged in and working on an assignment in order to use this feature – it doesn’t work if they’re not logged in, and it only works on assignments where their teacher has activated the feature. There’s no limit to the number of times students can use this feature on an assignment, but due dates and “Lock after due date” settings still apply, so if a student doesn’t click the “Grade it!” button by the due date, their answers won’t be submitted. It’s like I tell my own students: if you don’t give me the paper, then I can’t grade it! 😁
I spent a lot of time testing out progress saving on each of the quizzes on PhysQuiz.net, but like all new features, I recommend trying it out with a test account or a small group of your students first. Despite my best efforts, there may be some bugs that I hadn’t anticipated, so please let me know if you find any!
This feature was suggested by several teachers who use ChemQuiz.net – Lan, Krisha, Andrew, and Marilyn – and I prioritize adding new features based on teacher requests and feedback, so if you have any suggestions to help me keep improving PhysQuiz.net, please let me know!
*NEW* Browser tab switch tracking
Back in early December, I received a request from a teacher to look into making quizzes work with a “secure browser” so that students can’t switch away from an assignment. I thought this was a great idea, but the annual licensing cost for one of the more popular products was wayyy out of my price range. Instead, I did a little research and I was able to add a new security feature instead: Tab switch tracking! Teachers can now activate this feature on any assignment or exam they create on the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard by checking this box:
The number of times a student switches tabs away from your assignment or exam will now show up on the Results page of the Dashboard when you hover over the score:
The number of tab switches will also show up on the result details page.
Please note two important aspects of this new feature: first, it does not prevent students from switching away during an assignment or exam. Without a “secure browser” or specialized testing software that’s designed specifically for that purpose, there’s no way to stop tab switches from happening. Second, when this feature is activated, it displays a notice at the top of the assignment to students telling them that their tab switches will be tracked and recorded.
Thanks so much to Delora for reaching out and making this suggestion!
*NEW* Exam assignment mode
One of the most commonly requested features for the Dashboard has been to allow teachers to build an assignment from multiple quizzes. You can now build an “Exam” assignment on the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard using your own existing assignments or pre-built exemplars by following these steps:
- Click on “Assignments” in the top menu of the Dashboard to go to the Assignments page.
- Click the green “Create an assignment” button:
- In the first row of the table, check the box next to “Create an exam from multiple assignments”.
- In the second row, enter a custom name for the exam – this is a required step for exams!
- Fill out the rest of the form just like you would for any other assignment.
- Uncheck the Activation box at the bottom of the form (recommended but not required).
- Click the green “Save and Select Additional Options” button.
- This will load the Options page where you’ll select the assignments that you’ll use for each section of your exam. Enter the following information for each section:
- Section name (recommended but not required)
- Assignment (required)
- # of Questions (required)
- Section instructions (recommended but not required)
- To add another section to the exam, click the green “Add another section” button. Exams can have up to 10 sections.
- Click the Activation checkbox to activate your exam.
- Click the green “Save Exam Options” button, and you’re done!
I recommend clicking the “Preview” link next to your new exam on the Assignments page so that you can see what an exam assignment looks like. When a student takes an exam, it will take them to a new Exam launch page that tells them how many questions and sections are on the exam.
After a student completes a section, instead of showing their results, it displays a message that their responses have been saved and asks them to move on to the next section of the exam. If a student stops working on an exam and comes back to it later, it’ll pick up from the last section they completed. Once they’ve completed the final section, they’ll be presented with a big green button that says “Submit Exam for Grading” that they must click in order to have their exam graded.
Thanks to the many teachers who’ve reached out and requested this new feature, including Barbara, Abby, Kelly, Helen and Susan! Teacher feedback makes it easier for me to prioritize which new quizzes and features I should work on, so if you have any suggestions to improve PhysQuiz.net, please contact me!
Lots of bug fixes & new features
Since PhysQuiz.net uses the same Dashboard as ChemQuiz.net, whenever a new feature is added or a bug is fixed, it applies to both sites immediately. Here’s a list of all of the new features and bug fixes since the site was launched this past summer:
Dashboard – these features and bug fixes also apply to ChemQuiz.net
- new feature: allow teachers to track the number of times students switch between tabs (thanks, Delora!)
- new feature: allow teachers to build exams from multiple quizzes (thanks to Barbara, Abby, Kelly, Helen and Susan!)
- new feature: new dismissable “site announcements” box at the top of Dashboard
- new feature: teachers can now create copies of assignments shared by colleagues (thanks, Bill and Sarah!)
- new feature: added ability to set student password on CSV upload or when creating account (thanks, Chris!)
- new feature: added a “last access” parameter in the Dashboard so teachers can see when students last used the site
- improvement: added the ability for teachers to use preview, printable and presentation modes on exemplar assignments
- improvement: added an “Export” top menu item and removed the redundant “All Quizzes” menu item
- improvement: improved the Quiz Results filter menus
- improvement: added printable mode for exams (thanks, Teri!)
- improvement: cleaned up appearance on student “Current Assignments” page
- improvement: cleaned up the student Dashboard interface to be easier to read
- maintenance: removed option for email notifications due to past spam issues
- bug fix: a large number of results at a school (>40,000) would generate a 503 “Unavailable” error, so I split up the results database table and it seems to be running much faster (thanks, Lan!)
- bug fix: added links above the students results table on the Results page to support schools with more than 5,000 results (thanks, Dorothy, John and Katie!)
- bug fix: assignments were still showing on the student “Current Assignments” page even if students had met the threshold (thanks, Jason!)
- bug fix: assignments by colleagues for other classes were showing up even though those classes weren’t shared (thanks, Maggie!)
- bug fix: some assignment information would not show up for colleagues on the result details pages
- bug fix: when updating a student result without leaving a comment, it could crash Dashboard and not save the update due to an incorrect mysql statement
- bug fix: “States of Matter” and “Types of Matter” exemplar assignments were swapped (thanks, Monique!)
- bug fix: many, many bug fixes and coding improvements to prepare for upcoming server upgrade
- bug fix: student results were not showing up for teachers if the assignment was created for a shared class by another teacher (thanks again, Bill and Sarah!)
- bug fix: teachers couldn’t see filter menus or checkboxes when all their results had been archived (thanks, Andrew!)
- bug fix: teachers could unintentionally create a duplicate student account with an already existing username, which could cause login issues (thanks, Lauren!)
- bug fix: teachers couldn’t add a student to a class when directly editing their account (thanks, Dorothy!)
- bug fix: quiz completion time was sometimes saved using local timezone instead of UTC (thanks, Racquel!)
- bug fix: preview links were broken on the Assignments page
- bug fix: sharing an assignment with a colleague would exclude specific quiz options (thanks, Helen!)
- bug fix: custom assignment names, instructions to students and notes were truncated whenever apostrophes or quotation marks were used
- bug fix: the chosen class was “forgotten” on the Grades page when clicking the “Next >>” button (thanks, Don!)
- bug fix: class status (e.g. “Active” or “Inactive”) wasn’t showing up on the Classes page
- bug fix: selecting “lock after close” for an assignment that had no closing date would prevent students from taking the assignment
Exam feature bug fixes:
- bug fix: “Continue Exam” button wasn’t working properly for teacher previews (thanks, Scott!)
- bug fix: when trying to create an assignment, the drop-down menu to select a quiz was disabled (thanks, Aaron!)
- bug fix: some posted assignments were not showing up for students (thanks, Michele and Dawn!)
- bug fix: inactive assignments were not loading properly in exams (thanks, Ann!)
- bug fix: the open and close dates were not being loaded correctly for exams (thanks, Mike!)
- bug fix: using apostrophes in the exam section instructions would break insertion into the database (thanks, Monique!)
- new feature: students can save their assignment progress and complete it at a later time (thanks Lan, Krisha, Andrew and Marilyn!)
- new feature: added quiz option headers to some quiz forms so the options are better organized
- new feature: teachers can now prevent students from seeing scores or correct answers after completing an assignment (thanks, Jennifer & Laura!)
- new feature: option to use g = 10 (where applicable)
- improvement: custom assignment title now shows on grading page for all quizzes
- improvement: added “where applicable” notice to solution setup directions for some quizzes
- maintenance: removed the outdated “Print Preview” notice
- maintenance: cleaned up and removed a lot of vestigial code from various quizzes
- maintenance: updated all quizzes to directly pass the generated question to the grading page; this was a first step in adding a feature for students to save a quiz so they can come back to it later
- maintenance: updated server and all quizzes to PHP 8.2 for better speed and security
- bug fix: sometimes when a student entered a number in scientific notation incorrectly, the quiz would show their entry as “1f x 10”, so now it shows what they entered without attempting to reformat it (thanks, Mary Ann!)
- bug fix: teacher instructions in some assignments were incorrectly triggering a false positive in the site’s security software (thanks, Don!)
- bug fix: “Load More Problems Like This” button resulted in solutions not being shown for subsequent sets of problems
- bug fix: numerous quizzes would crash when calculating the correct answer due to math errors
- bug fix: several quizzes would crash while generating word problems if a passed value was null
Circular Motion Quiz
- bug fix: units for string length in some word problems were mass units instead of distance (thanks, Drew!)
Coulomb’s Law & Electric Fields Quiz
- bug fix: html tags were showing in placeholder
Electric Potential & Capacitance Quiz
- bug fix: permittivity of free space value was incorrect (thanks, Aidan!)
Friction & Inclined Planes Quiz
- bug fix: word problems solving for net force referred to “constant velocity” and did not provide an angle when necessary (thanks, Andrew!)
- bug fix: one type of word problem solving for kinetic friction while sliding incorrectly asked for static friction (thanks again, Andrew!)
- bug fix: some word problems for µk were generating blank values due to an out of range error
Gas Laws Quiz
- new feature: added option to only generate questions to solve for final values in problems involving change (e.g., Boyle’s, Charles’, Gay-Lussac’s & Combined Gas Laws)
Isotope Naming & Notation Quiz
- improvement: replaced isotope notation SVG images with MathML for better readability and compatibility with screen readers
- bug fix: quiz generated empty values for artificial elements and would sometimes crash due to lack of isotope data
Light & Energy Quiz
- bug fix: c was only showing 1 sig fig in solution setups (thanks, Don!)
Linear Momentum & Collisions Quiz
- bug fix: “causes an object’s velocity to change” word problems didn’t calculate the correct answer (thanks, Drew!)
Linear Motion Quiz
- bug fix: Certain linear acceleration/kinematic problems are including a blank value for final velocity (thanks, Andrew!)
- bug fix: some word problems involving downward initial velocity weren’t giving time (thanks again, Andrew!)
- bug fix: rounded values generated values >1 that crashed the page when asin() was used
Motion Graphs Quiz
- bug fix: interpreting answer of 0 as empty (thanks, Owen!)
Nuclear Reactions Quiz
- improvement: replaced isotope notation SVG images with MathML for better readability and compatibility with screen readers
- bug fix: positrons were showing up as protons (thanks, Van!)
- bug fix: positron decays with additional products were generating too many nuclides
- bug fix: exemplar assignments were not displaying selected options in the Dashboard
Physical Optics Quiz
- bug fix: forgot to divide lambda by 1e9 when performing calculations while generating word problems
Projectile Motion Quiz
- bug fix: solution for initial velocity was showing total time and not time to peak (thanks, Armin!)
- bug fix: quiz would hang when only “cliff” problems were chosen and “theta” questions were selected
Rotational Motion Quiz
- bug fix: calculating answers for acceleration problems with no T solving for wi sometimes resulted in taking square root of a negative value
Scientific Notation Quiz
- bug fix: multiple choice options for sig fig questions weren’t valid due to the commas added to large numbers (thanks, Dorothy!)
SI Conversions Quiz
- improvement: given values are now bold like in other quizzes
Work, Energy & Power Quiz
- bug fix: vertical work problems weren’t displaying value for acceleration (thanks, Andrew!)
- new feature: added ability for students to set password on registration form with join code
- improvement: purchased an additional CPU to improve site speed
- improvement: changed PHP-FPM configuration to prevent server lockups
- bug fix: student registration form wasn’t interpreting school expiration dates correctly (thanks, Mary Ann!)
- bug fix: school join codes weren’t being recognized properly (thanks, Blake!)
- bug fix: creating a student account with join code for inactive class may create a user associated with a non-existent school
- bug fix: Apache ModSecurity was preventing submission of URLs on the Teacher Interest form
I keep track of every issue or suggestion that’s sent in, but some bugs take a while to track down and fix, and new features can be challenging to add, so I appreciate your patience and understanding. PhysQuiz.net has improved significantly thanks to all the teachers and students who have sent in reports, so please keep sending them in!
Updated site license pricing for the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard
When I first started ChemQuiz.net in the summer of 2020, there were only 10 quizzes and the Dashboard had very few features. I’d signed up 31 schools and a private tutor, and during that school year the site served about 1,000 students. I was using shared web hosting to keep costs down because I wasn’t charging for site licenses yet, and as a result the site would often run slowly or refuse to load entirely.
Fast forward to today, and by creating PhysQuiz.net, I’ve added an entirely new site of 31 physics practice quizzes on top of the significant increase in popularity of ChemQuiz.net. Because of all this growth, both sites take up pretty much all of my time outside of school, and I’ve had to invest in much more robust (and expensive) web hosting as well as purchasing additional security software to keep the site as safe as possible. In order to keep the site ad-free and financially sustainable, I’ve made the difficult decision to raise the price of an annual site license.
Going forward, a site license for the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard will cost US$70 for 12 months. This is a change from the previous license term, which was based on the American school year (July 1st to June 30th). The 12-month term begins when payment or a purchase order number is received, or when the current site license expires, whichever is later. This means that, for example, if you renew your site license in April of this year, 12 months will be added on to your July 1st expiration date.
Site licenses will remain by building, so one license still applies to every teacher and student in your entire school. Additional schools in the same district can purchase an add-on license for 50% off at just US$35 per school. If you also teach chemistry or you have a colleague who does, you can bundle a site license for the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard for just US$35 more.
If you’d like to purchase a 12-month PhysQuiz.net site license or renew your existing license, you can pay in one of the following ways:
- credit card through Square (the most popular option)
- school purchase order (contact me for a sales quote – I’m happy to fill out any paperwork required by your institution or state)
The new pricing will also allow me to continue offering free site licenses to high poverty public schools with at least 50% of their students on free/reduced lunch or designated “economically disadvantaged”. If you teach at a school that has these demographics, please send me a link to the supporting documentation and you’ll get a free site license for the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard forever (ChemQuiz.net, too!). I want PhysQuiz.net to continue to be a useful resource for as many students as possible.
Help me share PhysQuiz.net with the world!
If you like using PhysQuiz.net, there are three quick and easy things that you can do to help me promote the site!
- Add your school to the list of supporters on the About page! Simply go to the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard, click on “Your Info” in the top menu bar, activate the box next to “Display School on PhysQuiz.net“, and click the “Update Your Info” button.
- Tell another Physics teacher about PhysQuiz.net and encourage them to try out the Dashboard!
- Follow @PhysQuizDotNet on X (formerly Twitter) and share my updates with your fellow Physics teachers!
Now that I’ve added these new features and fixed some bugs, I’d like to get back to writing some new quizzes and adding some new options to existing quizzes, such as diagrams and multiple choice questions. I’m teaching six preps this semester 😱 because we’re bringing back the Climate Science elective that I haven’t taught for a year and a half, but my students have really enjoyed that class in the past, so I’m looking forward to teaching it again!
Once again, thank you for your support of PhysQuiz.net! I hope that 2024 goes well for you and your families, colleagues and students. Please reach out to me via the Contact form or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns. Take care and stay safe!