Assessments

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

In the face of the disruptions that students and the entire Buckeye community are experiencing, these recommendations provide options for conducting final exams without the use of proctoring. If you have exhausted all of these options and feel a proctored exam is necessary, please consult with your chair or dean as soon as possible.

 

Planning considerations

Your department and your instructional team

The following resources and options are meant to provide a starting place for thinking about how to adjust exams and final assignments in the context of virtual learning. These decisions are ones to make in consultation with your colleagues. 

Especially when it comes to determining alternative means of assessing learning outcomes, work with your chair or vice-chair for undergraduate or graduate education. Chairs and curricular deans will be continuing these conversations in the coming days throughout your academic unit. 

Student access to technology

Our students, whether familiar with online learning or not, are experiencing major disruptions in their lives. There will be individual limitations to access that require your flexibility: for example, loss of access to preferred devices or software, inconsistent high-speed internet, varying timezones, or personal illness or family obligations. Stay in communication with your students to assess their changing needs and be flexible in due dates, participation windows, and alternative ways to access course content. If students need accommodations because of a disability, contact Student Life Disability Services to determine the right support.

It will also benefit your students if you are able to extend due dates and reduce the stakes of assignments whenever possible. Work with your department to coordinate efforts and share resources and options specific to your discipline.

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 as we move online in response to the current public health crisis. The Committee on Academic Misconduct has provided the following recommendations:

Alternative forms of assessment

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 or focusing on broader skills and concepts rather than specific details. Information-recall questions (the types of things that are easy to Google search) may not be possible or effective with the current constraints. 

Make your changes clear to your students in multiple places (syllabus, announcements, in the assignment item itself in Carmen) with as much notice as possible. You don’t need to have every assignment revised all at once, but be transparent as you make choices moving forward.  

Learn more about alternatives to traditional finals in the ODEE Resource Center.

You can also join the University Institute for Teaching and Learning's Communities of Practice to connect with other instructors and share evidence-based instructional strategies. The seven different Communities of Practice will use Microsoft Teams to discuss and share resources around assessments, inclusivity and student engagement.

Managing the work of creating and grading alternative assessments

If graduate teaching associates (GTAs) are part of your instructional team, you can rely on them to assist with the creation of new assessment materials and grading. Keep in mind the total weekly hours they are available based on their appointment, and then adjust the time that would normally be spent face-to-face with students toward these tasks. Communicate with GTAs about their ideas and availability; they may have untapped skills or resources to share, but they will also face disruption to their own academic and personal lives during this time. 

If you do not have GTAs or an instruction team to share the workload, adjusting assignments to assess only the essential learning outcomes will significantly help you manage grading. For example, if the same major concept is usually assessed in three essay questions at the end of an exam where you also assess the concept in multiple choice questions, reduce to one essay or a few multiple-choice questions. Instead of one large final with a large grading load, consider breaking those questions into shorter quizzes or writing assignments each week to test concepts as they appear and spread your grading load over time. Particularly in this stressful time, start with something positive. Reassurance and acknowledgement from you on at least one thing is crucial, whether it’s on resilience, the final product, or on growth over the term.

Learn strategies for more efficient grading in the ODEE Resource Center.

Pass/No Pass Option for Final Grades

For Spring 2020, most Ohio State students will have the option to obtain a pass/no pass grade for their current courses. What does this mean for you when grading?

In CarmenCanvas, you will not know which students have opted for the pass/no-pass grading option, so you will still assign all students a letter grade (A-E). You will transfer final grades to the Faculty Center as you normally would.

After you initiate the transfer from Carmen, grades for students who requested the pass/no-pass option will be automatically updated as follows:

  • A through C+ will be updated to PA
  • E and EN will be updated to NP
  • C, C-, D+ and D will be set to blank, for you to fill in according to your college’s grading scale

When you visit the Faculty Center, the Grade Basis column will let you know which students requested the pass/no-pass option. Please verify that these students have a PA or NP listed for their grade. If the field is blank, you will need to input a PA or NP for that student.

Technology Solutions by Assessment Type

My class has an upcoming… 

Exam

Midterm Exam

If you have an upcoming midterm exam scheduled, consider the possibility of delaying or dropping this exam and replacing it with smaller assignments that might assess the key learning outcomes. If this is not possible, create this exam in Carmen using the Quiz tool and adapt the questions and quiz settings for this new context. 

  • Reduce the stakes of these grades as much as possible, given that students may have limitations or interruptions with their technology and internet access during these first weeks of remote learning.  

  • 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).  

  • 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.  

  • To keep grading manageable, identify the essential components of the midterm. The Carmen quiz tool can be set up to give automatic feedback and grade many question types, which may 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.  

Final Exam

As you plan for a final exam, begin by familiarizing yourself with the Carmen Quiz tool and developing a strategy for an exam format that will work in the context of remote learning and many students who may still be dealing with disruptions.

  • Reduce the stakes of these grades, if possible, given that students may have limitations or interruptions with their technology and internet access.  

  • 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).  

  • 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.  

  • If your previous exam was proctored and you are concerned about academic misconduct, create a timed exam that allows open-book. 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.

  • 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. 

Exam Already Created as Carmen Quiz

Even if your students are accustomed to taking exams online in your course, they are likely experiencing major disruptions in other parts of their lives. See the recommendations in the sections above. 

  • Reduce the stakes of these grades, if possible, given that students may have limitations or interruptions with their technology and internet access.  

  • Stay in communication 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. 

Final Written Assignment

Many classes have a final 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. 

You may have already created this assignment in Carmen in the process of setting up your gradebook. You can double-check that the assignment type is “Online” and allows for file submissions. 

You can also use the built-in Turnitin plagiarism check tool in Carmen. 

Exam Required by a Program Accreditor to be Proctored

If your class exams are subject to proctoring requirements that are prescribed by an external programmatic accrediting body (mainly in graduate professional programs), begin consulting right away with your program or college leadership to determine how those requirements may or may not have been adjusted by current circumstances.

If exam proctoring is required, Proctorio (virtual proctoring) is available to use in Carmen quizzes.

  • Offering a proctored exam with these tools should only take place when required.  

  • For any course assessment that is not required to be proctored by your accreditor, use a Carmen quiz without proctoring features turned on, and reduce the stakes of the grade as much as possible.  

  • Remember that students are experiencing major disruptions, and stress effects learning. Even if they have used digital proctoring before, provide additional support for tool use, practice, and reassurance to help them prepare. 

  • 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 final. 

Limitations

  • Virtual proctoring options require specific devices (PC or Mac laptop or desktop) and Wi-Fi access. Work with your students to determine who cannot meet those requirements. 

  • If you have students who are working on iPads and tablets or will not have Wi-Fi access for the duration of the exam, work with your department chair to find access alternatives.  

  • 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.  

Exam Required by a Program Accreditor to be Proctored, Previously Offered in ExamSoft

ExamSoft is a digital testing platform that is paired with in-person proctoring in some departments. 

If your students are required by your accrediting or licensure body to take a proctored exam, begin consulting right away with your program or college leadership to determine how those requirements may or may not have been adjusted by current circumstances.

If you currently use ExamSoft for a major exam that still needs to be proctored, you have choices about how to adapt your exams to make it possible for virtual proctoring. These choices will likely require additional staff support or financial considerations; please work with your department leaders to determine how to proceed. 

Options:

  • Convert to a Carmen quiz and use Proctorio: You can export your ExamSoft questions, re-create the questions in a quiz in Carmen, and use Proctorio 

  • Continue in ExamSoft and purchase their add-on proctoring: If moving the quizzes into Carmen is not possible in your context (consult with your program leadership), you may be able to make use of ExamSoft’s fee-based virtual proctoring add-on if students all have access to a laptop/desktop and reliable internet. You will need to require students to add two new apps to their devices: ExamID and Exam.  

Limitations

  • ExamSoft’s virtual proctoring add-on will 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.  


Performance or Presentation

Practical/Performance Final

If your students are performing a practical or applied final, 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 ODEE 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 cannot meet those requirements. If you have students who will not have access for the duration of the exam, work with your department chair to find access alternatives.  

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 ODEE 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. 

  • Lower the stakes if you can: This format may be uncomfortable and require learning new technology. If you can, reduce the stakes of the assignment accordingly. Make the instructions and support resources (software and submission tutorials) available in multiple places (syllabus and in the assignment itself). 

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. 

Format:

  • Use Zoom to host a defense meeting. 

  • 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. 

  • 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 cannot meet those requirements. 

  • 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. 


You can also check out the recording of the Keep Teaching: Alternatives to Exams and Finals workshop for a walkthrough of these strategies and a Q&A session with those in attendance: