The switch to the online learning environment has impacted the university community in a variety of ways: Students may be feeling stress and concern over health, family, and finances and may also be displaced or have barriers for accessing reliable technology. Course instructors are feeling the stress of working with technology. Rethinking how to deliver course content and figuring this out in a short amount of time are also causing stress.
The goal for any exam is to accurately assess student learning without adding the burden of stress brought on by inequities in technology access or financial difficulties. Here are some factors to consider:
What outcomes do you feel that you must assess? Which ones have you already assessed in other ways? And are there some that you can eliminate under these circumstances? Also, determine acceptable evidence to measure the learning. Once you decide these details, you will have a better idea of what to include on the exam.
After you decide which learning outcomes must be assessed in the exam, create/revise your assessment to make sure the exam addresses the learning outcomes you identified in Step 1.
Here are some tips on exam construction: Tools for Teaching, Chapter 39, Test and Quizzes, pp. 362-374.
Here are some tips for constructing exams in ReggieNet: Online Testing
Consider how students will take the exam. Keep in mind that browser lockdown software may hinder students in ways that are unrelated to academic integrity. Therefore, you will want to consider test items that require students to show understanding of or apply content rather than knowledge-based questions that can be answered with a quick search engine query (See the Tools for Teaching chapter, linked above, for guidance on this).
Also, if you are requiring diagrams and charts, keep in mind that students may not have access to the technology tools needed to scan or photograph such documents, so you will want to consider other alternatives to this. Make sure that your materials are Accessible to all students. Accessibility Resources are available on the Transition your Face-to-Face Course to Online Instruction page.
Here are some suggestions for modifying your exam for the present learning contexts.
More details about alternatives to tests and quizzes can be found in the Tools for Teaching book chapter, linked above.
Whenever possible, avoid technology solutions designed to maintain testing integrity. This software often has unintended consequences that need to be considered. These include concerns about access, student privacy, and increased levels of student anxiety.
Some research suggests that reminding students about academic integrity at the beginning of an assessment results in less self-reported cheating. ReggieNet's Assignments and Tests & Quizzes tools include the option to include a basic honor pledge. When activated, it displays a message, "I will neither give nor receive aid on this assessment," and requires the student to acknowledge before they continue.
If you are using software to proctor a test or lock down browsing, please consider:
Suggestions for using ReggieNet for tests and quizzes and ideas to maintain online testing integrity can be found at ReggieNet Online Testing.
As soon as you can, communicate the exam procedures and expectations to your students. Highlight how the revised final exam is different from the original syllabus description. You may also want to explain why you made these changes and how they will benefit student learning under these circumstances.
Would you like to talk with someone about your exam? Contact CTLT and a coordinator would be happy to help.
Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for Teaching (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons.
Kurz, L. (2020, March 18). Handling exams when your course unexpectedly moves online. Center for Innovative Teaching at Indiana University Bloomington. https://blogs.iu.edu/citl/2020/03/13/exams-online/#.XpUC2Jl7nIV
Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences. (2020). Remote exams and assessments: Tips for exams and alternative assessments. https://sasoue.rutgers.edu/teaching-learning/remote-exams-assessment#10-alternatives-to-exams