With the end of the semester fast approaching, high-stakes assessments are top-of-mind for both faculty and students alike. And, given the current switch to remote and online teaching, instructors may be wondering whether they can convert their in-person paper final exam to an online format or even considering another assessment type altogether. The third principle of Universal Design for Learning, Action and Expression, recommends that instructors offer assessment options for students to show and demonstrate their understanding of course content (UDL on Campus). A collaborative group project, portfolio, video submission, or paper are just a few examples of summative assessments in which students can express what they know. Based on course goals and learning objectives, an online exam is another appropriate assessment, especially if varied assessment types have been used throughout the course.
There are various tools that can be used to set up, administer, and proctor online exams. However, it is best to use campus licensed and supported tools to not only receive prompt tech support and training but also to have the assurance that these tools are already vetted by campus instructional designers. Before delving into specific tools, below are some general suggestions and best practices to implement for high-stakes online exams.
- Offer students a window of opportunity to take the exam, e.g., 24 or 48 hours
- Give students an ungraded practice exam so that they can try out the technology used beforehand and adjust to the online testing environment
- Consider decreasing the weighted grade category for high-stakes online exams, e.g., reduce from 20% of total grade to 15%
- Vary exam question types
- Reduce the length of time allotted to take the exam
- Provide student guides, tutorials, and privacy & security documents for online exam technologies used (available on the SJSU eCampus website or from the company directly)
- Increase instructor availability; instructors should be readily accessible by phone and email during exam session times
- Create a backup plan for students who have access challenges and encounter extenuating circumstances (no stable internet, laptop/computer not working, software issues, etc.) when attempting to take the online exam
Canvas Quizzes, Respondus Monitor, and ProctorU, all SJSU eCampus vetted and licensed tools, can be used in combination to create and monitor online exams. And, with Canvas Quizzes, instructors can vary question types to offer students multiple ways to show their understanding of course content.
Exam Creation Tool – Canvas Quizzes
Canvas is the learning management system (LMS) for SJSU. Canvas has many features and its Quizzes function can be used to create online exams and set additional exam security functions. The below instructions and images are from the Canvas LMS Community Commons.
Key features to enable when setting up Canvas Quiz Details:
- Quiz Type – Graded
- Time limit
- Uncheck the box for “Let Students See Their Quiz Responses”
- Set Quiz Restriction – Require an access code
- Quiz Availability Range
Choose Quiz Details to set quiz type as graded
1. Enter a short description of the exam and you can also include an honor code statement.
2. Select Graded Quiz as quiz type
3. Select the assignment group for the exam, e.g., Exam 1. (Set up weighted grade categories based on assignment groups in Canvas.)
Set Quiz Options for exam time limit and other security options
|1. Shuffle question answers – Do not use this option if there are question answer options with “A and D” or “all of the above” since shuffling answers will not keep this sequence
2. Implement a “tight” time limit for the exam
4. Uncheck the box for “Let Students See Their Quiz Responses”
6. Uncheck the box for “Let Students See The Correct Answers”
7. Optional: Check the box for “Show one question at a time”
Set Quiz Restrictions to require a student access code in order to take the exam
|1. When using an online proctoring service such as ProctorU, the “live” proctor will enter the given access code for the student.
If using Respondus Monitor, send out the access code to students right before the exam availability starts. Or alternatively, use the “Lock This Quiz” feature (see below).
Assign Quiz Dates to set exam availability range
|1. Assign Exam to everyone – If assigning the exam to one student or certain students with a different due date or availability range, click “+Add”, enter the student’s name, and set parameters for that student.
2. Due date – date and time when the exam is due
Exam availability range
3. Available from – date and time when the exam is available to students to take
4. Until – end date and time when students can no longer take the exam
Save the Quiz
|Save the Quiz periodically throughout the editing process.
Do not click on “Save & Publish” until all edits, including exam questions, are finalized. And, for added security, wait until a few days before the exam time before publishing.
Publish the Quiz
|1. When ready to publish the Quiz, select “Publish”
6. Ability to lock or unlock the quiz. When the quiz is published, if “Lock this quiz now” is selected, then students can see the title of the quiz but will not be able to access it.
Use this option for Respondus Monitor. Then, right before the exam availability date, unlock the quiz so that students can access it.
In the end, remember to publish the quiz.
Canvas Quiz Question Options
Now that Quiz Details have been set up, create the exam questions.
There are various question types in Canvas quizzes. Instructors can build questions from scratch and/or use questions from an outside source such as a publisher test bank. Canvas has the following question types and options:
And, there is a feature to use question groups to randomize quiz questions for each student.
Canvas Quiz Accommodations
Once the Quiz is published, the “Moderate This Quiz” feature allows for extended time testing accommodations or even multiple attempts to take the exam.
Online Proctoring Tools – Respondus and ProctorU
There is no foolproof method to prevent cheating, even for in-person proctored exams. But the following online proctoring tools, coupled with Canvas Quiz security features and exam administration best practices, can be implemented to mitigate most academic integrity concerns. Note that online proctoring requires that students have stable internet connectivity and a computer/laptop with a webcam and microphone.
Respondus has two products – LockDown Browser and Monitor. Lockdown Browser can be used alone or accompanied with Monitor. Do not use Lockdown Browser alone unless it is a well-timed, essay response exam type. With LockDown Browser, students are “unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications” on their laptop or computer while taking the exam, hence “lockdown.” But, it does not prevent students from using other aids such as cellphones, textbooks, handwritten notes, peer sitting next to them, etc. Respondus Monitor, the companion product to Lockdown Browser, conducts a pre-exam “environment check” via webcam and records the student’s exam session. This added feature minimizes most of the security issues found with using LockDown Browser alone.
To learn more:
ProctorU Live+ is considered one of the “most secure options for online exams.” With this online proctoring tool, a live person monitors the student’s exam session via webcam and microphone and can intervene in real-time. In addition to live monitoring, there is an exam precheck that includes student ID verification and, if applicable, post-exam incident reporting. Here’s the ProctorU Live+ student walkthrough video to get a better idea of the online test-taking environment and process from the student perspective.
To learn more:
CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org
Live+ Online Proctoring Backed by Artificial Intelligence. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.proctoru.com/services/live-online-proctoring
Respondus Monitor. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://web.respondus.com/he/monitor/
UDL On Campus: UDL and Assessment. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://udloncampus.cast.org/page/assessment_udl
What options can I set in a quiz? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-26470-what-options-can-i-set-in-a-quiz