What will you do about tests now that you are teaching remotely?

This resource is designed to help faculty identify the best end-of-semester
assessment options for their courses.

A Decision Tree:
Would you consider an alternative assessment for your final exam?

If you have the capacity to evaluate and provide feedback on a culminating assignment, some options are a case study analysis, paper, portfolio, poster, infographic, or a video. See more ideas in the resource below.

As always, but especially in remote teaching, students will have better success if you’re explicit about the details of the assignment and what you expect them to learn from it. Transparent assignment design is a process that clarifies an assignment’s purpose, your expectations, and your grading metrics.

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One of the benefits of replacing the exam with smaller assessments is the regular feedback students can get from you to guide their learning. When planning to replace an exam with smaller assignments, it’s helpful to review the learning goals of your course. Clarity about learning goals, and the extent to which they’ve been met, can inform your decision about the appropriate assignments to replace the final exam e.g., a series of lower-stakes quizzes, case studies, or student presentations (live or asynchronous).

As always, but especially in remote teaching, students will have better success if you’re explicit about the details of the assignment and what you expect them to learn from it. Transparent assignment design is a process that clarifies an assignment’s purpose, your expectations, and your grading metrics.

Resources:

With open-book exams, instructors often expect a higher level of work from students—such as analytical and evaluative thinking—and grade them accordingly.

Open-book exams afford the most flexibility for online delivery:

  1. Easy: The simplest option is to email students instructions, due dates, and explicit directions on how they should submit the completed exam. You can use Blackboard Announcements for this, as well. See UVM Knowledge Base: Blackboard Announcements.
  2. Moderate: You can use the Blackboard Assignment Tool and attach a Word document of the exam which students can complete and submit by the due time/date you determine. You can then grade the tests in Blackboard. See UVM Knowledge Base: Assignment Tool instructions.
  3. A little more complex: You can create a timed test using the Blackboard Test Tool. See UVM Knowledge Base: Blackboard Test instructions.

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These three options for test delivery are listed by increasing levels of security and complexity.

  1. Blackboard Timed Test: The Blackboard Test Tool allows a range of question types, many of which are self-grading, including multiple choice, matching, ordering, either/or, true/false, multiple answer, short answer, and hot spot.

Note that the tools described below cannot absolutely prevent cheating, but used together they are a strong deterrent.

  1. Blackboard Test with Respondus LockDown Browser: This is a special browser that students download to their computers. When instructors set up a test in Blackboard, they take some added steps to require that students can only complete the test with this browser. The LockDown Browser, as the name would suggest, locks the student to the test page and they can’t open other windows or applications. However, in a remote testing environment, students would still have access to other devices.
  2. Blackboard Test with Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor: Monitor is an automated, artificial intelligence-based proctoring tool that requires access to a student’s laptop or desktop webcam and microphone to record them as they take the test. After Monitor processes the videos, it delivers a report to the instructor flagging instances where cheating may have occurred, for instance if the student goes out of screen, looks away for a period, or if a different person appears before the webcam. Instructors can then watch/listen to the video at the specific moments that were flagged as concerning and decide whether to address the behavior or not.

    In the higher ed community, ethical considerations of online proctoring tools are being debated. For more information, read this CTL blog post Online Proctoring Tools: Balancing Academic Integrity with Student Access and Privacy.

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