Assessments

Review the following considerations when planning your online exams and assignments, and consider the suggested strategies to facilitate the types of assessments in your course.

Planning considerations

The following resources and options are meant to provide a starting place for adjusting exams and final assignments online.

Supporting Students

Our students, whether familiar with online learning or not, may experience limitations to access that require your flexibility: for example, loss of access to preferred devices or software, inconsistent high-speed internet, varying time zones, personal illness or family obligations.

  • Supporting all students: Communicate regularly with your students to assess their changing needs and consider where you can be flexible with due dates, participation windows, and alternative ways to access course content.
  • Supporting students in other time zones or overseas: Consider expanding the time window for exams or scheduled final assignments, or offer alternatives at different times of day, so that students in different time zones can participate.
  • Supporting students who have disabilities: If students need accommodations because of a disability, contact Student Life Disability Services to determine the right support.

Academic integrity

Students commit academic misconduct because they are anxious about their performance, unable to meet deadlines, or do not understand the rules and expectations for assignments. All of these stressors are heightened in the current public health crisis. The Committee on Academic Misconduct has provided the following recommendations:

  • Give students clear expectations about how to cite their sources in written responses. 

  • Consider alternative modes of assessment as it may not be possible to monitor students' use of outside resources.

  • Enable Turnitin for written final papers, and let students know you will be checking for plagiarism. 

  • Articulate a clear and detailed policy on collaboration and communication about assignments.  

  • Provide guidance for students to access library resources remotely

Midterm and final exams in a remote context

If you’re offering a midterm or final exam remotely through CarmenCanvas, you may find it helpful to review the following topics. Your remote exam approach will be a balance of your assessment goals, student experience, technology tradeoffs and your own time for grading or for reviewing proctoring recordings.

Remember that exams—and especially remote-proctored exams—may be a cause of anxiety for students, especially at this time. Communicate regularly with your students to assess their changing needs. 

Adjusting the format for a remote exam

The remote context for the exam may include some adjustments to the format, length and overall expectations for the assessment. Some of these strategies may help you avoid the need for remote proctoring or other elements of high-stakes in-person testing that may be problematic online.

  • To keep grading manageable, identify the essential components of the midterm or exam and use those to create a rubric in Carmen. The Carmen Quiz tool can also be set up to give automatic feedback and grade many question types, which can provide you with more time to grade essay or short answer responses. Where possible, ask fewer questions or rephrase a question to engage with student’s understanding of bigger concepts rather than exhaustively assessing specific details. For more information, review the ODEE workshop recording for Effective Grading in Carmen.
  • Make your expectations for academic integrity clear in the exam directions. You can ask students to sign and submit an integrity commitment before the exam takes place, or create a first or last question within the exam itself asking them to commit to your integrity expectations. For more, review the ODEE workshop recording for Academic Integrity in Online Courses.
  • Another option is to offer a take-home style exam where students can type lengthy written responses and submit as a file upload. Handwritten equation or diagram answers can be photographed (using a scanning app such as Microsoft Office Lens) and submitted as images.

Setting up the Carmen Quiz tool

Create either a midterm or final exam in CarmenCanvas using the Quiz tool and adapt any pre-existing questions and quiz settings as necessary. Find more information about quiz setup in the Teaching and Learning Resource Center or view this brief video tutorial on Carmen quizzes.

  • Review the Canvas instructor guide on quiz settings to become familiar with the various options for quiz timing, security, randomization, feedback and more.
  • As students adjust to working in online testing environments during a high-stress time, they may need more time than usual to navigate the interface, process questions and type their answers, particularly if they must diagram or create equations using LaTeX notation.
  • If you are using a timed exam, offer a longer window than the window you would normally choose (for example, what takes 55 minutes in class might now take 90). In your quiz settings, double-check your time limit, due date and the window for availability to make sure the settings make it possible for students to complete the exam with the most flexibility you’re able to offer. The Canvas instructor guide for due dates and availability dates offers more details.
  • If you are concerned about academic misconduct, you might consider writing additional questions and using quiz bank and randomization options, and you might insert more open-ended questions, including ones that ask students to describe their process or thinking for arriving at an answer.

Considering remote proctoring

Review the following considerations before implementing a virtual proctoring tool (such as Proctorio).

Understanding the student experience

Automated remote proctoring tools work by recording a student’s screen and webcam and attempting to mark indicators of possible breaches of exam integrity. The tools will typically look for unexpected sounds and changes in light, depending on the sensitivity an instructor has configured in the settings. A roommate walking by, a baby crying in the room next door, a child coming by with their tablet to get help with schoolwork, or a dog coming around to say hello could all create “flags.” 

These types of tools cause anxiety to some students, on top of normal test anxiety, especially if students perceive that the software and its algorithms are making automatic determinations about cheating. If you employ a virtual proctoring tool, there are steps you can take to lessen these anxieties and humanize the experience.

  • Indicate to your students what you are most concerned about related to the integrity of their exams and what to do if they are worried about something that happened during their recorded session.
  • Emphasize that, at Ohio State, proctoring software does not make decisions about whether cheating occurred. There is a fair, well-documented academic misconduct process.
  • If you have not used digital proctoring before, make sure you and your students have an opportunity to practice. Set up a practice exam for them to test the software and get used to the interface well before the exam.

About the Proctorio remote-proctoring tool

If you choose to proctor an exam, Proctorio is available to use in Carmen quizzes. Proctorio is an automated remote proctoring solution that can serve as part of an academic integrity strategy for exams and other assessments.

Because Proctorio requires a desktop or laptop with specific software and access privileges, it's crucial to identify ahead of time any student who may not have access to that technology and would need a different arrangement that still allows the student to take the assessment, safely, without additional fees. Please consult with your department or college leadership to determine what alternative arrangements might be appropriate. (Note that there is currently no remote proctoring solution for mobile devices such as iPads, although many products, including some in use at Ohio State, have this functionality on their roadmaps.)

Limitations:

  • Virtual proctoring tools do not detect cheating without instructor review and decision making. If you suspect cheating, you can review the Proctorio recording and include that as evidence in a referral to COAM.
  • Virtual proctoring options require specific devices (PC or Mac laptop or desktop) and Wi-Fi access. Include these requirements in the syllabus. Work with your students to determine who needs an alternative based on their available technology. .
  • If you have students who are working on iPads and tablets or who will not have Wi-Fi access for the duration of the exam, work with your department or college leaders to make alternative arrangements for those students.
  • Proctorio may not be accessible for students who are completing their coursework from other countries. Additionally, you may want to consider adjustments to your scheduled exam window if you have students in other time zones or overseas.
  • Proctorio does not meet ADA requirements for accessibility. If you have students who require accommodations, work with the Office of Student Life Disability Services to develop an accommodation plan with an alternative form of proctoring.

Planning ahead for alternative forms of assessment

Any high-stakes, closed-book type of exam is prone to attempts at cheating, and virtual proctoring tools are imperfect and will not address other factors related to the integrity of the exam (for example, sharing information about questions online after the exam). As you plan for future semesters when remote assessments might still be required, consider the possibilities of changing your assessment approach.

Start with your learning outcomes; choose assignments that show whether students have met them. This may mean assessing concepts in ways that are new to you. Information-recall questions (the types of things that are easy to Google search) are not the most effective way to assess learning in online courses.

Authentic assessments work very well for the online environment. These assignments or exam questions ask students to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to negotiate complex tasks on relevant and real-life content, audiences, or formats (e.g., create a plan of care, create a statistical model, troubleshoot a problem, pitch an idea).

Workshops, consultations, and web resources are available for instructors to engage in this type of course-redesign planning.

Learn more in the Teaching and Learning Resource Center about:

Technology Solutions for Other Assessment Types

If you are planning other kinds of assessments for a remote context, there are technology solutions that instructors have found to be effective for particular types.

My class has upcoming…

Major Assignments

Many classes have a major assignment that takes the form of a paper, written or visual project, data analyses, or some other written document.

These assignment types can be submitted via Carmen using the Assignments tool. When you create an assignment in Carmen, the gradebook is automatically created. Double-check that the assignment type is “Online” and allows for file submissions.

  • Communicate regularly with your students to assess their changing needs. They may have reduced access to resources or changes in their work, childcare, or health that will interrupt their learning.
  • Consider if achievement of learning outcomes for a particular assignment can be demonstrated in multiple ways. If so, offer options for various submission types.
  • Use the assignment template found in the Keep Teaching Carmen template to help make your expectations very clear and specific for how students will go about completing each assignment.
  • Include the due dates using the Assignment tool, as these will then populate other tools in Carmen such as their To Do lists and calendars.
  • Assignments can also be submitted using the Carmen Discussion tool. Students can complete discussion thread questions either individually or in groups. Their submissions can be text based or videos using the built-in media options in the Discussion tool. Students can also respond to peer submissions as a component of the assignment.
  • To keep grading manageable, identify the essential components of the assignment and use those to create a rubric in Carmen. You can then use the SpeedGrader tool to score the assignment using the rubric. SpeedGrader will also allow you to provide either written or verbal feedback in addition to the rubric.
  • If you are concerned about academic misconduct, use the built-in Turnitin plagiarism check tool in Carmen.
  • Make your expectations for academic integrity clear in the assignment directions, especially about collaboration with peers.

Individual or Group Presentation

For classes that have presentations as a key final assignment, there are many options—including some very straightforward ones—for students to create a presentation and submit it to Carmen. A key consideration for which options will work will be your students’ access to preferred devices and to stable high-speed internet. 

Options:

  • Video recording: Students can record a slide presentation in PowerPoint (on a laptop or desktop) or in a recorded Zoom session; they would then submit a link to you in a Carmen assignment. Learn more about setting up a video assignment in the Resource Center.

  • Slides and notes: Students could also create a PowerPoint file with notes or a text script for what would be spoken in a live presentation. This is helpful to students without a microphone or webcam and those who don’t have high-speed internet to upload a large video file. It could also drastically reduce your grading time, allowing greater opportunities to give feedback to students. 

  • Zoom meetings: If you feel the presentation must be live, offer multiple time slots and allow students to sign up for times that work for them. 

  • Virtual poster session: If having students share work with each other is essential to the project, create a virtual poster session by creating a Discussion in your Carmen course. Each student can post their presentation in the thread and give feedback to others using the comments. Offer options for peer feedback including text or audio responses. In large courses, use the Groups tool to create small (4-8 student) groups and ask them to comment on two others so everyone receives feedback.  

Planning Considerations:

  • Practice first: Offer an assignment to submit a rough or practice draft of a few slides to get used to the process with points for completion. 

  • Assess only the key course outcomes: Unless digital recording and virtual public speaking skills are part of the learning outcomes, keep the grading and feedback focused on the content rather than the delivery. 

  • Provide support: Make the instructions and support resources (software and submission tutorials) available in multiple places (syllabus and in the assignment itself). 

Practical/Performance

If your students are performing a practical or applied exam, decide whether this must take place in real-time or if it can be recorded. 

  • If a committee must interact with the student live, schedule a Zoom meeting. 

  • If the performance can be recorded, create a Carmen assignment and allow students to upload a video file or share a link to a streaming video. Learn more about setting up a video assignment in the Resource Center.

Limitations

These options require a device with a camera and microphone and high-speed internet access. Work with your students to determine who needs an alternative based on their available technology.

Graduate Thesis/Competency Exam/Proposal

The Graduate School has communicated that if your students are completing a candidacy exam, thesis oral exam, or dissertation defense, you will need to shift to a videoconference meeting format and you may do so without needing to petition. You can schedule a Zoom meeting and incorporate a very basic identity verification step to meet the Graduate School’s requirements for protecting exam integrity. For undergraduate exams in this format, your department can use these same recommendations to guide its planning. 

Zoom setup for integrity:

  • Schedule a Zoom meeting with appropriate security settings to ensure that only invited participants are able to enter, and those users are known and authenticated.

  • The student’s advisor should draft and sign a document verifying the student’s identity as documentation of ID verification. 

Planning considerations:

  • Discuss as a committee before the defense what your expectations will be and share them with your student. Expect longer delays for processing questions and providing verbal answers. Exams should be scheduled for 2½ hours, which affords one extra half hour for any potential technical difficulties.

  • If students will be expected to diagram, draw or show visual elements, make those expectations and a list of required materials available to them well ahead of time.

Limitations:

  • Zoom videoconference meetings require a device with a camera and microphone and high-speed internet access. Work with your students to determine who needs an alternative based on their available technology. 

  • If you have students who will not have Wi-Fi access for the duration of the exam, work with your department chair to find access alternatives. The Graduate School asks faculty to be as flexible as possible with their graduate students in making arrangements. 


Proctoring options

Proctoring an Exam Using Proctorio

Proctorio is an automated remote proctoring solution that can serve as part of an academic integrity strategy for exams and other assessments.

Because Proctorio requires a desktop or laptop with specific software and access privileges, it's crucial to identify ahead of time any student who may not have access to that technology and would need a different arrangement that still allows the student to take the assessment, safely, without additional fees. Please consult with your department or college leadership to determine what alternative arrangements might be appropriate. (Note that there is currently no remote proctoring solution for mobile devices such as iPads, although many products, including some in use at Ohio State, have this functionality on their roadmaps.)

Because any high-stakes, closed-book type of exam is prone to attempts at cheating, and because any virtual proctoring tool is imperfect and will not address other factors related to the integrity of the exam (for example, sharing information about questions online after the exam), longer-term strategies are recommended for designing more robust forms of exams.

If you choose to proctor an exam, Proctorio is available to use in Carmen quizzes.

  • If you have not used digital proctoring before, make sure you and your students have an opportunity to practice. Set up a practice exam for them to test the software and get used to the interface well before the exam.
  • Even if students have used digital proctoring before, provide additional support for tool use, practice, and reassurance to help them prepare.

Limitations

  • Virtual proctoring options require specific devices (PC or Mac laptop or desktop) and Wi-Fi access. Include these requirements in the syllabus. Work with your students to determine who needs an alternative based on their available technology.
  • If you have students who are working on iPads and tablets or who will not have Wi-Fi access for the duration of the exam, you will need to make alternative arrangements for those students.
  • Proctorio does not meet ADA requirements for accessibility. If you have students who require accommodations, work with the Office of Student Life Disability Services to develop an accommodation plan with an alternative form of proctoring.

Proctoring an Exam Already Offered in ExamSoft

ExamSoft is a digital testing platform that is paired with in-person proctoring in some departments.
 
If your academic program currently uses ExamSoft for a major exam that needs to be proctored (usually for professional graduate degrees with external accreditation requirements related to exams), please work with your department leaders to determine how to proceed. These proctoring options will likely require additional staff support, scheduling, and financial considerations. Departments or courses that do not already use ExamSoft should explore the other options above.
 
Using ExamSoft for remote exams by purchasing their add-on proctoring service: Some academic programs are choosing to extend their use of ExamSoft for remote proctoring through ExamSoft’s fee-based virtual proctoring add-on. You will need to require students to add two new apps to their devices: ExamID and ExamMonitor.  

Limitations

  • ExamSoft’s virtual proctoring add-on will currently only work on a laptop or desktop computer with high-speed internet.
  • ExamSoft does not meet ADA requirements for accessibility. If you have students who require accommodations, work with the Office of Student Life Disability Services to develop an accommodation plan with an alternative form of proctoring.  

 


You can also check out the recording of the Keep Teaching: Exams and Assignments for Online Courses workshop: