Please find some information below to help us all be successful in supporting students as they take Blackboard/online exams in the EPC. We understand that all faculty have different needs and priorities that show up in many different ways on Blackboard exams. That said, it can be incredibly challenging for us in the EPC to support and help troubleshoot when issues with Blackboard exams come up if we don’t have all the information that we need before the exams start.
First, a reminder that we do need faculty to submit information about their exams to the EPC in advance of the scheduled exam date and time even if it is a Blackboard/online exam with no password or timing parameters. It is most helpful for us to have as much information as possible in advance of the exam to help us prepare for the multitude of different issues that could occur during Blackboard exams. As such, we have updated the myACCESS Faculty Portal to ask new questions in regards to Blackboard exams including:
- Exam Password (if applicable)
- Test Day Contact Info for Tech Troubleshooting (phone? email? MS Teams?):
- Extended Time Parameters for Online Exams (please check all that apply):
- Extended time has been set per individual student accommodations.
- Timer is turned OFF (EPC will monitor timers).
- Exam will auto-submit at the end of the scheduled exam time.
- Exam will NOT auto-submit at the end of the scheduled exam time.
- I have verified that the Blackboard/Online exam will be available at confirmed EPC exam time (per individual student bookings, may not match start of class time exactly).
Last, the EPC has seen a steep rise in the volume of Blackboard exams being scheduled in the EPC over the past two years. We have spent this time assessing how we can best meet our students’ needs while reducing the confusion and strain that troubleshooting issues can put on us in the EPC. The EPC’s preferred best practices for Blackboard exam settings in the Exam Proctoring Center are as follows:
- Exam set to be available for the entire day that a student is scheduled to take it in the EPC.
- Exam set with no time limit (as opposed to auto-submit turned off), as the EPC will provide timing reminders to students and require students to submit their exams when their scheduled time is up.
- Exam set to only be accessed with a password provided to the EPC that we will provide to students when they begin their exam in the Exam Proctoring Center.
The EPC will always provide timing reminders regardless of what the their timer looks like on Blackboard and we will not allow students to take unlimited time with their Blackboard exams, even if there is no time limit on Blackboard. The password will prevent students from accessing the exam outside of the EPC. Removal of timing and availability parameters will ensure that students can access the exams when they are scheduled to take it at the EPC. Students will receive their full extended time while eliminating the confusion and anxiety that some students feel when they see a timer that does not align with their extended time.
We understand that this structure for Blackboard exams will not work for everyone. This is why we have expanded the questions we ask in the myACCESS portal to help us better understand your Blackboard exams if you’re not able to set parameters within our preferred methods.
If you have any questions about the new questions in the myACCESS Portal regarding Blackboard exams, EPC’s preferred best practices for Blackboard exam parameters, or anything else related to exams, please be encouraged to reach out to the EPC by email at email@example.com. We will be happy to clarify and explain anything to help us all come to a common understanding.
Example of how Blackboard/Online exam issues can show up in the EPC
Below is an example to illustrate our rationale for our preferred Blackboard exam parameters:
The in-class exam time is 50 minutes. A student has an accommodation for 1.5x extended time and should receive 75 minutes. If the exam is set to automatically submit after the 50-minute time limit for the whole class but with the auto-submit functionality turned off for students with extended time, the student testing in the EPC will still see a timer for 50 minutes throughout their exam and will receive a pop up window after 50 minutes asking them to click “cancel” to continue or “OK” to save and submit. This can create extra anxiety and confusion for students to see that timer that does not align with their accommodated time and to receive a prompt during their exam, which is likely already a high-stress situation for our students. Additionally, the EPC is only an extension of their faculty, so we often have no way of knowing if the exam will automatically submit or not without contacting faculty and we do not have control over the parameters set by their faculty. Thus, it is our preference for exams to be available all day with no time limit and password protected to allow the student their full extended time.