Adapting Assessments

Before making a decision on how to assess your students in the remote environment, consider the following:

Set expectations for your students and reassure them about the course. Your students are likely feeling very uncertain and concerned about what is happening. Their grades and the course assessments are likely to be a key area of concern. Talk to students openly and tell them that this is a new experience for everyone. Encourage them to talk to you and share concerns.

Re-examine your syllabus and determine what assessments remain in the course or have yet to be submitted. Which ones can be left as-is or be modified only slightly for an online environment? Which ones cannot be completed remotely in the format you originally anticipated? Focus on revising and changing rather than developing completely new assessments.

Consider your learning objectives. Determine how you can perform assessments other ways while still making sure they show that your students are meeting the course learning objectives.

Consider the size of your class. If you have a small class, you may be able to do oral examinations one-on-one or in groups. For larger classes, you will need to use another format such as a Canvas exam. Think about how your Teaching Assistants might be able to help you with the new format.

Consider academic integrity. It will be more difficult to ensure students do not work with others or use resources on tests and other assignments. Consider making exams open-notes or open-book. Change the type of questions or problems so that they focus on whether students understand the underlying concepts, even if course resources will be used.

Consider students’ ability to access required resources. Keep in mind that not all students may have access to necessary resources, such as internet, printers, or scanners. As you consider how to create the alternative assessments, survey your class to find out what they have access to. Be flexible and make accommodations for students who do not have the resources that are required for an assessment.


Open-Book Exams

Students are given an assessment document, complete it in a limited amount of time, and submit it in Canvas. Exam allows students to access outside resources and work together on final assessment.

Appropriate for: small/medium class size with essay, problem-solving, exams with hand-written answers
Resource: Writing Effective Take-home Exam Questions

Considerations:

  • Unethical student behavior
  • Strategies to minimize academic integrity violations include:
    • designing questions that require thorough understanding of course material
    • asking for proof and justification for all answers
    • requiring that answers make direct reference to course-specific materials
    • assigning questions randomly

Benefits:

  • Test higher-level skills
  • Reduce student anxiety
  • Time flexibility
  • Greater rigor in answers can be expected
  • Real-world problem-solving environment

Complexity: LOW 

  • Fewer changes needed to existing exams
  • Exams could be distributed via Canvas Assignments or email
  • Students scan and email/upload finished assessment to faculty

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Multiple-Choice Exams

Appropriate for: all class sizes, all exam types
Resource: Canvas Quiz (Exams will need to be re-created in a Canvas Quiz)

Considerations:

  • Unethical student behavior
  • Strategies to minimize academic integrity violations include:
    • randomized questions and/or answers
    • question banks
    • time limit for each student once they begin the exam
    • showing only one question at a time
    • limiting ability for students to see exam answers after submission

Benefits:

  • Single-choice and match-all-that-apply types available to assess students in different ways
  • Question types can be machine-graded

Complexity: LOW 

  • Existing exam questions could be used
  • Exams will need to be re-created in a Canvas Quiz

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Short Answer / Essay Exams

Appropriate for: all class sizes, all exam types
Resource: Canvas Quiz (Exams will need to be re-created in a Canvas Quiz)

Considerations:

  • Strategies to minimize academic integrity violations include:
    • randomized questions and/or answers
    • question banks
    • time limit for each student once they begin the exam
    • showing only one question at a time
    • limiting ability for students to see exam answers after submission

Benefits:

  • Free-response type questions are available
  • Some automated grading is available, but most types are instructor-graded

Complexity: LOW 

  • Existing exam questions could be used
  • Exams will need to be re-created in a Canvas Quiz

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Quantitative-Heavy Exams

Appropriate for: all class sizes, all exam types
Resource: Canvas Quiz (Exams will need to be re-created in a Canvas Quiz)

Considerations:

  • Formula builder gives each student a unique question based on a certain parameter space defined by the instructor
  • Photo-uploads must be manually graded but more closely mimic paper testing

Benefits:

  • Use formula builder to create multiple versions of quantitative questions
  • Can also use document-upload questions where students upload a photo of their computations

Complexity: MODERATE

  • Existing exam questions can be used and symbology can be incorporated
  • A small learning curve is required to use formula-based questions
  • Exams will need to be re-created in a Canvas Quiz

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Replace Exam with Multiple Online Quizzes

Multiple lower-stakes quizzes can replace one large final exam.

Appropriate for: all class sizes, all exam types
Resource: Canvas Quiz

Considerations:

  • Consider how to build individual quizzes to assess overarching concepts
  • More grading each week
  • Importance of student feedback on each assessment

Benefits:

  • More immediate insight into student progress
  • Less grading at end of semester
  • Could improve academic integrity

Complexity: MODERATE

  • Exams restructured into multiple parts
  • Build quizzes in Canvas Quiz

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Replace Exam with Alternative Assessments

Exams are eliminated and replaced with alternate assessments such as projects, papers, student presentations, reflection journals, etc.

Appropriate for: all class sizes, all exam types
Resources: Canvas Assignment, Zoom

Considerations:

  • More grading time
  • Ensuring that new assessment meets the same learning objectives
  • Connectivity challenges could make online presentations difficult

Benefits:

  • Students can choose projects based on their interests
  • Assessing other skills (researching/communications/writing)
  • Students will quickly need clear communication about requirements

Complexity: HIGH

  • Restructuring assessment strategy could be time consuming
  • Students could upload projects to Canvas Assignments or present via Zoom

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