Online Strategies for Final Assessment

Final exams can be done online as traditional tests (though instructors will want to tightly control the time allowed, use randomization, etc. to minimize cheating), but instructors may also want to consider an alternative form of final assessment for their courses this term.

A. Some Tips for Traditional-Format Testing but Online

1. Points to consider as you shape your online test/exam:

  • Use a variety of question types, multiple-choice, fill-in, short answer, essay, etc.
  • Write questions that cannot be easily searched online or in e-texts.
  • Use large test banks of questions in the same format and draw a select number randomly from that pool of questions.
  • For calculated questions, include random variables in the question wording so students with similar questions must give unique responses.
  • Avoid questions which require a mere statement of fact.
  • Frame questions that require application, analysis, evaluation, and/or synthesis of taught material as this will both require critical thought and cut down on cheating.
  • Questions can certainly be multiple-choice or in other objective-question formats, but base them on a case study, scenario, data set, map, image, text selection, etc. that requires mental processing, not just information passing.
  • Considering following objective questions with short-answer, “explanation of a multiple-choice answer” questions: students must explain why the answer they chose to a multiple-choice question is correct, or why the alternative answers are wrong.
  • Consider framing questions as you would open-book exam so that, if students use external resources, it will have been factored in as part of the question process.
  • If relevant, consider adding an “in your experience” component to your questions, applications, etc. as such reflective elements force a more personalized response and so discourages cheating.
  • Randomize both the questions and the possible responses (for objective questions) to complicate any effort at illicit assistance.
  • Consider not allowing students to go back to missed responses/pages and/or only displaying one (randomized) question at a time to further discourage illicit assistance.
  • Provide a tight time frame to minimize looking up answers, consulting with friends, etc. A minute a mark is reasonable, but note this does not mean a minute per question.
    • A multiple-choice question with multiple sentences to read may be worth a full minute’s work and so a full mark (or more, if there is a data set or case study to assess).
    • A true/false statement may be work only 0.25 of a mark (giving it 15 seconds – still a fair bit of time).
    • Matching questions often require 0.5 per match (30 seconds) as many students find the matching process cognitively challenging.

Resources with information on using the quiz tool within mycourselink (D2L):

2. Additional Resources

B. Some Options to Final Tests/Exams

1. Options

Many tools and resources are available in D2L and through the Teaching Commons resources to help you fashion alternative assessments.

Some options to consider include the following:

  • Problem-based assignments
  • Analysis of data, graphs, diagrams, or data sets
  • Abstract of a (scientific) paper/article or an annotated bibliography of several relevant articles
  • Summaries and/or application to real-life problems of specific taught material
  • Demonstrations of procedural knowledge or performance tasks (evidence collected and submitted on video)
  • A final written assignment (Either as an essay question in Quizzes in D2L or submitted through the Assignments box)
  • A primary-source analysis or article-critique (Either as an essay question in Quizzes in D2L or submitted through the Assignments box)
  • A final presentation (Video Assignment in D2L is a useful tool for this.)
  • A term-related project (Video assignments or the regular Assignments dropbox can be used for this.)
  • An infographic, video, audio recording, animation, graphic text, poster, or other multimedia project
  • Demonstrating mastery of the term's work (Video Assignments and Assignments Dropbox are useful here as are many tools and resources available through the Teaching Commons.)
  • A digital-storytelling or digital-publishing assignment/project
  • A portfolio collection representing work done throughout the term (ePortfolio in D2L can be used for this.)
  • A creative reflection assignment (Either done as an essay question in Quizzes in D2l or submitted through the Assignments box)
  • An online version of a “take-home” exam (Either done in Quizzes in D2l or submitted through the Assignments box)
  • Case study analysis, models, simulations, etc.
  • Real-time oral assessments through Virtual Classroom
  • Oral tests of knowledge via Virtual Classroom (works for STEM as well as other fields)
  • Problems offered through the Quizzes tool, worked on paper, scanned, and submitted through the testing tool

2. Additional Resources

See the following starter resources which contain assignment options, many of which can be adapted to a final assignment, take-home exam, or end-of-term assessment submission:

C. Help Is Available!

The Teaching Commons staff is available to discuss these and other options with you – including how to write effective online tests -- and to help you shape acceptable final assessment tools for your courses.

Feel free to contact us to discuss your individual situation: we may be able to help you fashion an appropriate course specific, final-assessment if the above suggestions do not meet your needs.