This is a guest post by Dr. Denvil Duncan, Associate Professor in the O’Neill School and Faculty Chair of the Hudson & Holland Scholars Program.
Many of us are trying to figure out how to assess students online. CITL has already shared resources that will aid in this process.
Handling Exams when your Course Unexpectedly Moves Online
Creating Open Book Exams
The goal of this post is to heighten awareness of the reality that some of our students are currently facing. I would like you to consider these as you design your exams.
- Limited access to internet. While some students have low quality internet, others are in households with multiple users who are either schooling or working from home. So, even those with reasonably good internet might face connectivity issues.
- Limited access to devices. Not every student is in a household with multiple devices. Some households might have multiple devices, but not enough for the number of people who need simultaneous access.
- Limited access to other technologies. Not every household has access to printer/scanner/webcam.
- Working. Some students have had to seek employment to cover income they would have been earning if they were still on campus.
- Caregiving. Some students have to care for siblings who are themselves schooling from home.
- Time zone. Many of our international students who made it home during spring break are sleeping while we are awake.
It is important that we consider these factors as we make our examination design choices. For example, on-campus exams generally require students to occupy a particular point in space-time. This requirement is not as practical in the online setting. We can’t require a particular point in space since our students are all over the country/world. More importantly, the items listed above imply that we cannot require a particular point in time either. Where possible, I am encouraging you to consider providing students the flexibility to select a time that is most convenient for them.
It would also be helpful to students if they are able to review their responses before submitting their exams. This is one piece of the in-person exam that I believe we should try to preserve. I know some of you would like to minimize cheating by preventing students from changing their responses to previously answered questions. However, this only serves to increase the stress level in what is already a stressful situation. The CITL blogs mentioned above include many strategies that can be used to minimize cheating. Here are a couple that I am using for my undergraduate exam; my graduate exams are open-book/notes/internet take home exams.
- Opened for 7 days. In retrospect, I should have opened it for 2-3 days only. However, I announced 7 days in my spring break message and have decided to stick with my initial statement to the class.
- Timed. Students have two hours to complete the exam.
- Randomized questions from a question bank.
- Randomized order of correct answers for the multiple choice questions.
- Questions are presented sequentially, one-at-a-time. However, students can review previously answered questions.
- Academic honesty statement.
Canvas quizzes are very flexible. You can show one question, randomize questions (this allows you the flexibility to give each student a different exam), randomize responses, allow review of previously answered questions, etc.
[Editor’s note: If you want assistance designing your online exams, or have questions about how to do some of these things in Canvas, please contact the CITL.]