Exam Decisions

Giving tests when some students are in quarantine

If you have students in quarantine during scheduled tests and you want them to take the exam at the same time as the rest of the class, this page offers some ideas. Note: If you’d like help with any of these options, contact us at ctl@uvm.edu.

If your class is in person, and you’re planning to give the test on paper, you have at least two Blackboard options for students who can’t come to class.

  1. Build a Blackboard test that mirrors your in-person exam and release it only to the quarantined students. In this option, you’d create the test with separate questions in Blackboard.
  2. Build a simpler Blackboard Test with one question as a File Response type. In this option, you’d create the whole exam in Word and attach it to the test’s single question. Students download the file, enter their answers, and then upload it as their “answer” to the one question when they are done.

Ways to provide better security:

  1. When setting up (deploying) the test for the quarantined students, you can set it to be available at the same time the test is being taken in the classroom. You can set the timer for the same time length (however, it’s a good idea to add 5-10 minutes to give them extra time to when the test is given online).
  2. To ensure that only the quarantined students have access to the Blackboard version of the exam, you can use adaptive release.
  3. You might emphasize in the description area that the file is not to be shared. Reminders from faculty right before an exam about UVM’s Code of Academic Integrity and the consequences of violating it by engaging in plagiarism, fabrication, collusion, or cheating may have an impact on students who are considering any of these behaviors. See more on Academic Integrity on the CTL website.

If you are considering an alternative assessment for quarantined students, you may find the decision tree below helpful. It was originally written for the 2020 pivot to remote teaching.

A Decision Tree:
Would you consider an alternative assessment for your 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.

Resources:

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 decisions about the appropriate assignments to replace the 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. Easiest delivery: The most basic 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 have differing levels of security.

  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.
  1. Blackboard Test with one file response question. If your exam is given in the classroom on paper, consider this option for quarantined students. Using the Blackboard test tool with only a single question – a “file response” type – you can provide remote students with a word document. Once they begin the test, the timer starts and they can type in their answers on a word document. Before the timer is ended, they can submit the completed word document as their answer, before the timer runs down.
  2. 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, keep in mind that, in a remote testing environment, students would still have access to other devices.

Resources: