This has suggestions to help LSA faculty move their current modes of assessment into an online teaching environment. If you are designing new assessments from the ground up this may still be of some use, but we recommend reaching out to the Learning and Teaching Consultants or the Language Resource Center directly for help building your new assessments. These suggestions also may not meet every need for every class. If you are unsure of the technologies or approaches that are best for your specific field or course, please contact the Learning and Teaching Consultants to schedule a consultation. Language faculty should contact email@example.com for consultation and assistance.
Considerations surrounding academic integrity are on the first tab. For recommendations on which tools to use for which type of assessment, see the Types of Assessment tab.
You might also like to watch Online Assessment in Large Courses: an LSA faculty panel in which LSA instructors speak about alternative assessment approaches they have found successful.
If you are concerned about the possibility of cheating during online tests and assessments, first discuss the topic of academic integrity with the students before the exam to help students reflect on their own values and responsibility. Engaging students in direct discussion of academic integrity, and the need to uphold the validity of everyone’s scores, including their own, has been demonstrated to be the most lasting and effective means to deter cheating. For additional suggestions, read The Best Cheating Prevention: Open Discussion about Academic Integrity, the LSA Academic Integrity page. Language instructors will also wish to read about Academic Integrity and Google Translate.
To avoid possible cheating on high-stakes exams in remote teaching environments, we encourage faculty to think about different types of exams, rather than fill in short answer or multiple choice tests. Consider the following modes of testing:
For many years, the College of LSA has resisted approaches to academic integrity which rely on technological surveillance or policing. There are many reasons for not utilizing these approaches, but the two most important for us are the ways in which it undermines our existing community of trust and the deep invasions of student intellectual and personal privacy involved. This resistance continues to shape our approach to all evaluation, including online examinations.
Many approaches to evaluating student learning are used within the thousands of courses taught in LSA. Instructors have nearly complete autonomy in choosing modes of evaluation and assignment of grades. Most of our courses utilize authentic student work (research, application, analysis) which requires the kinds of contextual originality which discourages academic misconduct. Some, especially among large introductory science courses, utilize exams that check for basic or factual knowledge; the inherent 'cheatability' of this assessment mode is more likely to prompt misconduct. Even in these cases, though, surveillance is less effective than strong community standards.
Lockdown software does not work for online assessments. Locking down the browser on the test computer doesn’t prevent a student from having their phone open or books open or other resources in front of them while working on the exam. Similarly, if faculty are interested in Lockdown Browser in an attempt to limit the possibility of copying the exam and sharing it with other students, there is nothing preventing students from taking pictures of the exam and texting them to people.
Likewise, we cannot recommend proctoring software or services. The software has been demonstrated to have severe racial bias in its flagging, and live services are deeply invasive and foster an atmosphere of mistrust that actually increases the risk of cheating. LSA does not currently have any contracts with paid proctoring services. Some faculty might consider proctoring the exam themselves over videoconferencing, as they would in an in-person course in a classroom. But remember that this is not a classroom, and live proctoring of a home environment is a drastic invasion of students' privacy.
LSA does not currently support or sanction the use of anti-plagiarism software such as “TurnItIn”. There are numerous reasons for this, including strong concerns for student intellectual property rights where the detection software companies profit by ingesting student work, without students' permission, into company databases against which other student work is then compared for possible cheating. In addition, plagiarism detection software only reacts after the fact. Many have argued strongly that there are greater benefits from teaching students how to avoid getting into problematic situations and helping faculty take proactive steps in their classes to teach students about plagiarism and how to avoid plagiarism. The Sweetland Center for Writing has a great site to teach students and faculty about plagiarism and how to avoid it.
The Sweetland Center for Writing also has excellent resources to help faculty members create better essay topics so that student work requires creative analysis and can’t just be recycled year after year. Sweetland has long argued that we need to take active steps to help LSA faculty craft better writing assignments which are ill-suited to papers from writing mills, writing bots, or files of past papers. Even in an online environment, Sweetland's suggestions for peer editing and iterative writing assignments can help students improve their writing skills and outcomes.
The additional tab on this page (above) provides faculty with guidance on alternative approaches to assessment and provides recommendations for tests, quizzes, essays, projects, presentations (synchronous and asynchronous) and exams.
How to best design online exams depends greatly on the type of exam you give. There are some general good practices, however. These include:
Have instructors available by email, chat, or on Zoom, in case of questions while taking the test.
If you limit testing time, make it longer than on-site time would be, to allow for technical issues.
Explain clearly to students, in the quiz or assignment description, what materials they may need to have on hand to complete the test (e.g. smartphone for scanning hand-written work, microphone or sound pick-up for recording spoken responses).
Do not use lockdown software for online exams; it is designed for on-site, proctored testing environments and will not help in an online environment.
If your major assessments normally take the form of long essays, we recommend using a Canvas Assignment. You can have students type or paste directly into a text-entry box, or allow them to upload files. Assignments allows you to set a test-taking window of time using the availability dates in the Assignment settings.
Assignments will also give you tools to annotate and mark up the uploaded document in Speedgrader, the online grading tool. Speedgrader allows you to mark up the document, add comments, record audio comments, use a rubric, and enter the final grade. These will all be viewable to the student in Canvas when grades are published.
If you use Quizzes for an essay exam, use a text-entry question type and ask students to type or paste their responses in. This will allow you to make use of the Speedgrader annotation tools here, as well.
How-To Resources: How-to Information on Creating a Canvas Assignment
If your exams are normally multiple choice, fill in the blank, numeric, or short-essay, use Canvas Quizzes. You will need to enter the questions and feedback into the Quiz, but once you have done so, Canvas will grade everything but essay and file-upload questions for you automatically.
We do not recommend using lockdown software with a Quiz given online. Lockdown only prevents students from opening a new window, tab, or application on the testing computer. It will not stop them from looking answers up on a separate phone or different computer, and adds a needless layer of complexity and potential technical issues. If you are concerned about cheating, please read the recommendations in the first tab.
LSA does not recommend or support remote proctoring services which hire outside individuals to watch the students take their exams online via webcams. Not only are these services quite expensive, they raise serious concerns around the invasion of personal privacy and undermine existing standards of trust.
If you are accustomed to using this type of question for high-stakes exams, you may also want to think about a different type of assessment during disruptions, for example using a case study or a writing assignment. These may serve better, to allow students to demonstrate knowledge.
How To Resources: How-to Information on Creating Canvas Quizzes
Examples: Non-Roman Fonts, Drawings, Equations, Formulae, Graphs, etc.
Students with smartphones or tablets can use scanner apps to create a digital copy of their work in PDF or JPG format. If your exam involves handwritten work, you can use either a Canvas Assignment or Quiz with a file-upload question type.
Keep in mind, not all students will have access to smartphones or tablets. You should ask students to contact you so you can identify alternative ways they can demonstrate their learning or submit their work.
If your exams are entirely oral or presentation-based, you can schedule them during one or more class periods on Zoom. You can easily have students present live and share their presentation materials by calling on them during the videoconference and asking them to share their screens.
Note that some students may suffer network issues, and plan a work-around. You might, for example, require all groups to submit materials to you beforehand, so that if a student, or a group member, has connection difficulties, they can phone into the videoconference instead and you can share/advance their materials.
If your final assessment involves student performances, presentations, or oral recitations, and you have chosen to have students record and submit these (asynchronous) rather than present live (synchronous), we recommend enabling My Media in your Canvas course so students can use Kaltura Capture to record themselves. These recordings can be submitted via the Course Gallery or in a Canvas Assignment.
If you are assigning a Canvas Quiz and wish to include spoken responses within that Quiz, you can use text-entry type questions in Quizzes; those will give students access to the native Record Media tool to record their responses on the spot within the Canvas Quiz. Plan that the spoken responses should be less than 1 minute to avoid students losing their work to a poor internet connection.