Assessment strategies – University Center for Teaching and Learning (2023)

During the semester, you may need to grade your final tests, exams, and other assessments to deliver them in an online/remote format. Many assessments (eg, research papers, writing projects, essays) can be administered through Canvas or other web-based technologies (eg, email). These may often need little or no modification.

However, some assessments (e.g., multiple choice exams, finals) often require the presence of the instructor, TAs, or a proctor. If so, you may find it helpful to consider alternative ways to assess your students if traditional face-to-face test administration is not available. Below are some key considerations to think about in course-level assessments. (especially multiple-choice tests) in a modified learning environment and some alternative formats for assessing student learning that may be useful if you suddenly have to move your class online.

Remote administration and supervision of exams.

Many providers have contacted the university through direct marketing campaigns offering free access to their remote monitoring services. While these technologies may seem appealing given our current distance learning situation, there is no one-size-fits-all product, and a university-wide solution will not be integrated in time for final exams for a variety of reasons.

It's important to note that some teachers have already used Zoom to conduct synchronous exams, while others have completely changed their exam formats. The Learning Center recommends that teachers consider alternatives to traditional exams at this time and we are ready to help.

Online assessments: what is allowed and what is not allowed:The Chancellor's Office has provided guidance on what teachers can and cannot ask students when administering online assessments.

  • Allowed:
    • Require a student to keep their camera on as long as it is focused solely on the student doing the work.
    • Record the session (without audio) for later investigation for anomalies.
    • Please use exam proctoring software (if your school/department has purchased and uses such a solution), provided it does not directly conflict with the items below.
  • Not allowed:
    • Ask a student to pan the room with their camera to show that the room is empty.
    • Require students to keep their microphones on.

Set realistic expectations to help you and your students.Tell students that you may need to make changes that will help them continue to learn, and that these changes may require some adjustments by instructors, TAs, and students. Communicate with your students early and often about any changes you may make, and assure them that you are taking unusual external circumstances into account when evaluating their class work.

Recognize that learning can be demonstrated in many ways.. Multiple choice exams are a common method of assessing student learning in higher education and have many advantages. However, it may be useful to explore other assessments that you can assign to allow students to demonstrate their learning. Multiple-choice tests tend to be very effective at remembering key concepts and increasing recall, both of which are essential for learning. However, assessments that require students to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and apply information are also highly effective, although they may require more instructor time to plan and assess.

Evaluate course changes to detect impacts on equality and inclusion.Changes to your teaching should not negatively affect students. When considering a possible change, ask yourself if the change has the potential to harm a particular group of students in your class.

Recognize that each assessment method has advantages and disadvantages.Each of the methods identified below has strengths and weaknesses that you will need to determine and evaluate based on your instructional context. Weigh your concerns about the integrity of the assessment process against the potential consequences for students of changing their tests/assessments. You may also consider how much time you and your technical assistants (if applicable) will need to modify the tests/assessments and grade or provide feedback on them.

Is a final exam required or necessary?

The first question to consider is whether a final exam is required or necessary. It may be that students have produced enough content to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for their course. In such cases, a final exam may not be necessary. Consult with your department chair or dean to identify the appropriate policies and guidelines regarding the administration of final exams.

  • UseFinal exam decision treeto help determine if and how a final exam should be administered.
  • Further guidance is available atif you have to take your exam online.

What alternatives are there to finals and face-to-face exams?

The following suggestions are designed to address academic integrity issues that may arise when tests are administered outside of the classroom.

Switch to an open book exam format. This format promotes student learning and can help neutralize the possibility that students may inappropriately rely on other resources to complete the exam.allowsask them to check out other resources. The following elements may be added to the exam (alone or in combination) to ensure that students maintain academic integrity when course assessments are taken outside of the classroom.

  • Add a section to the exam that requires students to list the course-related sources they used to answer each question (including page numbers where appropriate), as well as citation information for any other resources they used. Consider telling students that they can use external sources if they also make a considered recommendation about whether to bring external sources to class in the future.
  • Add a question that asks students to write a brief reflection about what they learned about the content or about their own learning processes during the process of exploring the questions.
  • Have students choose a test question or problem that was difficult and explain the process they went through to find the answer and/or solve it.
  • Have students choose the most interesting question or section on the test and write a short paragraph explaining why they thought it was interesting. A variation of this: Have students choose the test question or section that focuses on the information they feel is most applicable to their future careers and explain why they think that information is valuable for them to know.

Strategies for dealing with online fraud

UserClosed bookformat, the following suggestions may be useful to you. Consider reducing the number of single choice answers (eg multiple choice questions) to add:

  • short answer questions. By adding more short answer questions that are tailored to the information in the lectures, students are given the opportunity to show what they have learned. It also encourages students to maintain academic integrity by connecting their answers to what they have learned while participating in your class.
  • A metacognition task. Insert a section where students look at mistakes from a previous test and explain the correct answer to earn a certain number of points determined in advance by the instructor. This builds metacognition, helps students improve their learning, and makes connections with students' past performance in class.
  • A transformative reflection. Ask a question that asks students to write a brief reflection on how the course has changed their thinking about the course topic or a course subtopic. This helps students become more aware of the effect your class has had on them intellectually.
  • Resource recommendations. Have students provide a recommendation for two scholarly articles, news articles, videos, or other educational media they have examined by writing a brief explanation (1-2 paragraphs) about how these pieces can help potential students understand the course material.
  • An application task.Have students choose a test question and explain how the knowledge it tests is important when applied to the field. Make sure you have discussed the applications in class, and if not, it may be helpful to let students know that you are encouraging innovation in this assignment. If the application is something you have not discussed in class, you may want to change your grading criteria to reflect this.
  • Move to a completely short exam format. If possible, turn your multiple-choice questions into a series of questions that require students to write responses to one or two paragraphs summarizing the course content. Tailor questions to the specific content of your course to encourage students to produce their own work and discourage inappropriate reliance on external sources (ie plagiarism). Be sure to inform students of the criteria you will use to evaluate their answers (for example, a rubric) before they take the test. If students expected a multiple-choice exam during the semester, consider the effect a sudden change in format might have on students' ability to succeed on the exam and compare this to any changes that might be made. . If you feel the change is warranted, explain to the students the reason for the change and reassure them that you care about their learning.
  • Assign an annotated bibliography. If a traditional exam is not possible and contributes to your students' learning outcomes, consider asking students to write an annotated bibliography in which they select 5-10 important scholarly articles from course readings and write a brief summary. explain what the article is about and then give your assessment of the article's value to the field. At first, students may find it a difficult task, especially if they have never faced such a task before. Giving students a model for homework can be helpful, and reminding them that it builds on skills they likely already possess (writing summaries, for example) can go a long way to easing their anxiety. If it is a new assignment for students being introduced, due to external factors affecting your course, it may be a good idea to adjust your grading criteria accordingly.
  • Assign an application task.Give students an application of the concepts (or just a key concept) from your course based on real-world problems and ask them to explain that they would use the information they learned in class to solve the problem. This would require students to analyze the problem and then synthesize an answer by reviewing the concepts you have learned in your course and applying them to the scenario you have described. This again can be difficult for some students. If the application is something you have not discussed in class, you may want to change your grading criteria to reflect this.


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