Adapt Your Assessment Methods for Your Teaching Modality
“Can I give open book tests? For example, can students take a HuskyCT based test/quiz with any of the following question types (M/C, T/F, Short Answer, Essay, Matching) without a proctored situation?” Yes, faculty have the ability to change their assessment methods including how tests and exams are delivered and proctored. The priority is to match the assessment type with your learning objectives.
“If how I teach needs to change mid-semester, can I adjust/change the type of assessments used throughout the course from what was originally stated in my syllabus?” Yes and in fact faculty are encouraged to look at alternative forms of assessment. Any changes to existing tests, quizzes, and other ongoing class assessments should be noted in the syllabus and clearly communicated to students as soon as possible.
“With final exams only being administered online this semester, can I adjust/change the type of final exam/assessment from what was originally stated in my syllabus?” Yes. This is a great opportunity to explore alternative methods of course-wide and final assessment. Any changes to existing final exams or final assessments should be noted in the syllabus and clearly communicated to students.
“If I have an in-person, hybrid/blended, split course, or distance learning course (any course with a specific course time or final exam time), can I make students take assessments and final exams outside of the normal class hours or finals schedule for my course?” No. You can only require students to take exams during the time period originally scheduled for the in-person class meeting time or the official final exam block.
“Can I offer flexibility that allows students the option to take assessments and final exams outside of the normal class hours or finals schedule for my course?” Yes and in fact faculty are encouraged to offer flexibility when possible. Just like faculty, students are experiencing disruptions due to technology issues, internet access, learning/living environment issues, and time zone challenges. If an exception needs to be made for a student, flexibility and compassion are key to ensure optimal student learning.
Planning and Creating Assessments
These strategies will help you both adapt existing assessments and create new assessments that are better aligned with your learning objectives and accounting for the challenges and affordances of teaching in different modalities. In acknowledgment of the unique semester that students and instructors are experiencing, these flexible and supportive recommendations provide options for conducting ongoing and final assessment of student learning. These include non-traditional assessments like recorded student presentations and one-on-one verbal exams, traditional tests and exams with or without the monitoring of test-taker behavior, and variations on more traditional methods that are adapted for an online environment. All strategies discussed are intended to better help you decide the best way to measure your students’ achievement of your course learning objectives.
Make Your Assessment Plan
1. Be Flexible and Understanding
Our entire UConn community is experiencing major disruptions at this time. Our students are adapting to a mix of different teaching modalities for their courses. Consider your students’ potential limitations and be as flexible as possible. We know that students across our community and across the world have been faced with internet challenges, lack of reliable equipment, time zone differences, personal illness, family obligations, and even socioeconomic and political turmoil while attempting to keep up with their schoolwork.
Stay in communication with your students to assess their needs. Be flexible with due dates, participation windows, and alternative ways to access and engage with course content. Consider alternatives to the “one assessment method” both to accommodate students ahead of time and as a backup in case of technical problems or illness. Recognize that a solution for the many may still pose insurmountable challenges for the few. They will need your help to accommodate their needs. Feel empowered to shift to asynchronous schedules and timelines to better accommodate you and your learners. Most importantly keep asking and listening. The vast majority of our students want to succeed and learn despite the dramatic changes all around them.
2. Adapt an Existing Assessment
Previously you may have used one type of assessment in your course but a wide variety of options are available. By reflecting on the essential learning objectiv, leveraging technology and providing the appropriate support and feedback for students, we hope that all instructors are able to provide effective assessments and to assure student learning. We are also here to help. Contact our staff in CETL to discuss any of the strategies you find here.
View the assessment types below and our recommendations for how you might plan, prepare and leverage technology to accomplish your course goals:
Assessment Types and Recommendations for Adaptation
- Midterm Exams and Ongoing Course Assessments
- Final Exam and Alternative Final Assessments
- Writing Assignment
- Practical/Performance Assessments
- Existing Alternative Assessments
- Individual or Group Presentation
- Remain Flexible. Remember, you can only require students to take quizzes, tests, and exams during the time period scheduled for the class meeting time or the official final exam block. Students have already reported conflicts as a result of faculty changing the meeting times for exams. Please be considerate of your students and your colleagues. Maintaining original class times for required tests and exams is essential for the whole community. You can offer students a range of times in which they can take quizzes, tests, and exams as long as the original class or exam block is one of the options they can choose from.
- Reconsider. Consider the possibility of replacing a large or higher stakes exam with multiple smaller assignments that assess the key learning outcomes.
- Lower the Impact. Consider the potential impact of high stakes assessments. If appropriate, reduce the stakes of these assessments given the high stress environment everyone is experiencing.
- Add more Time. Students may need more time than usual to navigate the interface, process questions, and type their answers, particularly if they must diagram, create equations, or create a record of what they have done with video, audio, or photographic evidence.
- Leverage Technology. After creating hand-drawn equations or diagrams students can take pictures of their work or scan the images and submit by email (using a scanning app such as Adobe Scan to PDF APP if students have access to the appropriate devices). Recorded voice messages (using Kaltura, Flipgrid, other apps, or even just their smartphone) can also be used, where students can describe the process they employed to get to an answer, discuss their perspective, or critically evaluate a situation or problem.
- Support Students who Require Accommodations. If you use timed exams, quizzes and assignments, be prepared to make adjustments for documented accommodations. Some students may require adaptive technology, paper-based exams, captioning, or other accommodations during assessments. Consult with the UConn’s Center for Students WIth Disabilities if you need assistance adapting for documented accommodations in the online environment.
- Promote Academic Integrity. Think about how you might adjust your midterms to promote academic integrity. Consider an adaptation to open note/open book tests that require citations of class notes and readings.
- Discourage Academic Misconduct. If you require monitoring of student behavior while they take tests, use Respondus Lockdown with Monitor. If you intend to use this for a final or midterm exam, consider first creating a practice quiz as a low/no-stakes way to gain experience with the tool. (Tip: Providing minimal points will increase participation substantially.) Note: This option requires a device with a camera and microphone and consistent internet access. Be prepared with a backup plan in the event students do not have these or experience technical difficulties.
In addition to the recommendations for mid-term exams:
- Leverage Technology. Use the HuskyCT assessment tool and develop a strategy for an exam format that will work remotely. Questions traditionally distributed on paper can be uploaded in many formats including multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the blank, and essay questions.
- Responses for multiple choice or true/false can be automatically scored.
- Questions can be randomly shuffled for each student, ensuring that each student receives a different, but parallel, form of the test.
- Question responses(answers) in multiple choice questions can be randomized.
- Test banks can be used to provide further randomization of questions.
- Pay attention to aligning test questions to learning objectives and create question banks around your objectives. This will enable more consistent assessment delivery to students.
- Leverage Technology. Create a timed exam that can be done with an open-book.
- Leverage Technology. Write additional questions and use quiz banks to randomize the questions and question order. Insert more open-ended questions, including ones that ask students to describe their process or thinking for arriving at an answer.
- Promote Academic Integrity. Make academic integrity expectations clear in the exam directions. 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.
- Promote Academic Integrity. Review guidelines and suggestions for verifying students identity in the event of disruptions to teaching and learning
- Promote Academic Integrity. Create multiple versions of the same type of exams (e.g., Written exams with different prompts that meet the same objectives. Different equations to solve that show mastery of the same mathematical/scientific concept. Different M/C questions that address the same objectives).
- Promote Academic Integrity. If you require monitoring of student behavior while they take exams, use Respondus Lockdown with Monitor.
Note: This option requires a device with a camera and microphone and consistent internet access. Be prepared with a back up plan in the event students do not have these capabilities.
- Leverage Technology. You may have a final that takes the form of a paper, written or visual project, data analysis, or some other document. These can be submitted in HuskyCT using the Assignments tool.
- Uphold Academic Integrity. Use the built-in Safe Assign tool in HuskyCT.
- Uphold Academic Integrity. Assign outlines, drafts, and revisions to written assignments. Web conference with your students to discuss their writing process, their learning, and to monitor their progress over time to ensure they are the only authors.
- Uphold Academic Integrity. Add peer review components to written work requiring students to incorporate suggestions to make cogent arguments for rejecting peer critique. Web conference with your students to discuss their response to peer critique.
- Reduce or Reconsider. 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.
- Leverage Technology. If you and other graders or evaluators must interact with the student in real-time, schedule a Collaborate meeting.
- If the performance can be recorded, create a HuskyCT assignment and allow students to upload a video file or share a link to a streaming video.
NOTE: 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 performance or assessment, work with the students and your department chair to find access alternatives.
- Reduce, Expand, or Reconsider. Many alternative forms of assessment are already designed with flexibility and student differences in mind. This is a great opportunity to revisit the alternative assessments you already have in place and further revise them to meet the unique needs and affordances of the online environment whether this is expanding these assessments across more time or reducing them to a shorter window.
- Leverage Technology. Use video conferencing tools like Collaborate to encourage students working in groups to collaborate more frequently and flexibly
- Leverage Technology. Ask students how they can use their at hand technology to record, track and share their learning in ways you may not be aware of. Note: Keep in mind any use of social media or other web based services raises the topic of privacy. If you are using a non-sanctioned service or social media platform for University teaching, be aware that you are responsible for following FERPA guidelines related to student work and learning experiences.
- Reduce or Reconsider. If presentations are an important final assignment, there are many options students can use to create a presentation and submit it to HuskyCT. Note: 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.
- Leverage Technology. Access to both preferred devices and stable consistent internet are key considerations when determining which option will work for your students. Here are some options:
- Video recording: Students can record a slide presentation in PowerPoint or in a recorded Kaltura session. They can then submit a link to a HuskyCT Assignment or embed the video in the Assignment’s content editor (using the “mashup tool”).
- Slides and notes: Students create a PowerPoint or Google Slides file with typed notes for the spoken presentation. This is a good option for 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.
- Collaborate 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-- but record the sessions, as well.
- Virtual poster session: If having students share work with each other is essential, create a virtual poster session by creating a Discussion Forum in HuskyCT. Each student posts their presentation and gives feedback to others. Offer options for peer feedback including text or audio responses. In large courses, use the Groups tool to create small groups (of 4-8 students) and ask them to comment on two others so everyone receives feedback.
- Support Students who Require Accommodations.
3. Create a New Assessment
Design assessments with answers requiring synthesis and critical thinking, answers that cannot be googled, or answers that are unique to every student’s specific assessment. Think about making assessments authentic to how students will eventually apply the knowledge and skills they learn. Ask students to apply their learning to real world situations or scenarios for which they have a vested interest.
- Consider other ways that the primary learning outcomes could be assessed. Would a paper or video presentation be possible? Poster presentations? E-portfolio documents? For ideas, see Ryerson University’s “Best Practices for Alternative Assessments”.pdf.
- Could you create an open-book or open-resource assessment? How might the skills or knowledge be used in a real-world setting and how could you have students perform a similar task?
- See additional tips for constructing take-home exams from Bengtsson, 2019.
- Ask students to develop assessment questions and projects for their peers with the answers to these problems.
- Create multiple types of exams/assessments that measure the same objectives but allow for variation between students (Standard final, project-based, open book, other alternative assessments).
When transitioning to a new assessment, be sure to:
- Describe what students will need to know or be able to do (i.e., identify what will be assessed) and how they should complete and submit the assessment.
- Identify how points (and how many) will be awarded for each prompt/component.
- Let students know how, if at all, the new assessment(s) will affect the way course grades are calculated
Note: Try to keep these changes minimal.
- In all cases, share with students that this is new for you as well, and solicit their feedback to clarify assessment expectations.
Some Further Ideas:
- Take home exams in multiple formats
- Use Collaborate or WebEx to monitor students as they are writing. Have them show results to webcam as a baseline and submit photo versions through Scan or Phone Photo submission to teacher. It is possible to also watch using a videoconferencing tool students as they complete a document or task.
- Assign group exams. A similar philosophy as open book except instead of a book, students become resources to each other. Before handing the exam in they grade/rank each other on relative contributions to exam (only visible to instructor).
- Assign a Google Doc to each student and observe their progress in the document.
- Ask students to collaborate on a final group video presentation, live or recorded. Use peer evaluation during the creation process and again at the end of the process.
- Assign an annotated anthology or bibliography
- Use an E-portfolio as a place for students to capture artifacts of their learning over time. Ask for written reflection on their learning. Ask for a synthesis of all of their learning as reflected in their selected artifacts. Prompt them to connect the artifacts to stated course learning objectives.
Need support? Email email@example.com and ask for an “assessment consultation”.
4. Plan How You Will Grade and Provide Feedback
Offer formative feedback: If at all possible, give students clear feedback often and allow them opportunities to revise and resubmit their work so that their mastery can develop over time. This is especially important if the assignment is new, and where there might be misunderstandings about your expectations. Clear rubrics and grading frameworks will further ensure students know what is expected of them.
Create and Grade assessments in HuskyCT: Our learning management system has a series of tools to make feedback and grading easier and to increase academic integrity.
Consider using tools such as:
- The Quiz tool to provide automatic feedback and grade many question types, giving you more time to grade essays or short answers.
- The Assignment tool is a place for students to submit papers/projects.
- The Discussion board can be used to assess student comprehension of concepts and to show connections between concepts.
- The groups tool can provide a place for students to collaborate and submit their team's work
- Provide a weekly summary through HuskyCT announcements, either as text or in an audio recording right in the tool.
- Use the Rubric tool to provide clear guidelines and expectations for assignments and assessments
- HuskyCT Integrations:
Resource for above: See HuskyCT Features
In order to maximize your time and provide adequate feedback to your students, adjust your assignments to assess only the essential learning outcomes.
- Example 1 - a 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 your plan to include only one essay or a few multiple-choice questions.
- Example 2 - 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.
5. Promoting Academic Integrity
If your class exams are subject to identity verification and/or proctoring requirements, you use Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor which is integrated within the HuskyCT platform. The technology provides a way to capture student identity and monitor students as they complete their exams. Respondus Lockdown with Monitor doesn’t require scheduling (other than activating it in the HuskyCT settings) and is available 24 hours as day. A few things to consider while requiring ID verification and online proctoring:
- Remember that students are experiencing major disruptions, and stress affects learning. Even if they have used digital proctoring before, provide additional support for tool use, practice, and reassurance to help them prepare.
- Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor’s minimum system requirements are listed on this page. Monitor requires the following:
- Windows: 10, 8, 7
- Mac: OS X 10.10 or higher
- iOS: 10.0+ (iPad only).
- Web camera (internal or external)
- A microphone
- A broadband internet connection
- Respondus Monitor requires Wi-Fi access and a device with a camera and microphone and high-speed internet access. Work with your students to determine who cannot meet those requirements.
- Verify with your students that rely on accommodations that their technology is compatible with Respondus Monitor. Remember requests for accommodation may arise and see the ITS "IT Accessibility" site. Consult with the UConn’s Center for Students WIth Disabilities if you need assistance adapting for documented accommodations in the online environment.
- If you have not used Respondus Monitor before, make sure you and your students have an opportunity to practice. Set up a practice exam to test the software and get used to the interface in advance of the final.
- As another preventative measure, consider building test question pools in HuskyCT. Each student can receive different questions from within a set making each test unique. Grouping questions by objective can assure that the test is representative of the material being assessed and that the content being assessed is the same for each student. This, ultimately, makes student collaboration much more difficult especially when used with a technology like Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor.
- Enable Safe Assign for written final papers.
Implement Your Assessment Plan
6. Communicate Expectations
In general, students commit academic misconduct because they are anxious about their performance, are unable to meet deadlines, or do not understand the rules and expectations for assignments. All of these stressors are heightened this semester. Communicating, thinking ahead, and having an alternative plan can help in these situations. Prior to assessment implementation, inform students of your expectations, technologies they will use, equipment they will need, and explain what an acceptable test-taking environment is where applicable.
For alternative forms of assessment, understand that many students will miss the predictability of a standard midterm and final exam model. Be very explicit and clear with any alternative assessments and expectations and look for the elements that may be confusing for students who have never seen an alternative assessment. Expect, or even better, encourage questions. Open communication and dialog is a key component of the successful implementation of new strategies.
- Be flexible, anticipate technical and logistical problems, and be prepared with possible alternatives and solutions.
- Revise or add clear guidelines, rubrics, grading schema, etc. in both the syllabus and as a part of the assessments themselves.
- Be explicit in syllabi, assignments, and assessment instructions about any technology required for assessment and course participation
- When using peer-based collaborative alternative modes of assessment, make clear the extent to which peer-to-peer collaboration and access to resources (e.g., the internet, books, notes) are acceptable.
- Give students clear instructions on citing sources in written responses.
- Enable Safe Assign for written final papers. Let students know you will check for plagiarism.
- Communicate expectations ahead of time for adherence to Community Standards. Explain which resources are and are not allowed for each assessment and discuss the importance of trust in the classroom.
- Give clear examples as to what you consider to be academic misconduct
- Encourage students to take the assessment in an isolated space away from other people and distractions
- As you would in a classroom, prohibit the presence of cell phones, smart watches, and other devices that access the internet.
- Consider best practices for reducing cheating on take-home exams.
- Be clear with students if outside resources are not allowed and enable the use of Respondus Lockdown with Monitor to lock down the testing environment in HuskyCT. Remember that many students have access to more than one device, so share your expectations regarding separate, un-monitored devices.
- Respondus Lockdown with Monitor can be one way to provide on-demand identity verification, a scan of the testing environment, as well as proctoring.
- If you suspect academic misconduct, follow University policy and process found in Appendix A: Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research
7. Practice Beforehand
When introducing any new tool, a low stakes opportunity to practice the new technology should be provided. Also, don’t forget to give yourself practice opportunities before committing large amounts of time and effort to something new.
- Proctoring an exam with Respondus Lockdown with Monitor? Provide a pre-test in the tool and give (minimal) points for completion. This will also allow you to review the results and learn the environment
- Hosting a webinar presentation? Jump online together prior to the big day to let everyone test their camera, lighting, microphone and practice sharing their screen.
- Use the Preview Student view in HuskyCT to view availability of content and tests-- especially when creating Test Exceptions. This feature will mimic what students see and can be a good way to make sure everything is working as you expect.
Ask for help if you need it. Your colleagues, staff, TAs and all of us here at CETL are available to provide support for whatever you may need.
See Additional Tools & Resources
8. Assessment Technology Resources
- HuskyCT Tools
- Respondus Lockdown Browser with Monitor - for recording and reviewing student test sessions (see “Monitor section” of linked resource)
- Respondus - Create and manage exams, quizzes, and surveys to upload to HuskyCT
- Using the HuskyCT Grade Center
- Kaltura - Record video recordings of lectures or upload media for streamed file hosting and integration into HuskyCT
- Kaltura (for student submissions) - this tool is also available for students to create and deliver media content/ recorded presentations in a course
- Collaborate Ultra - a real-time video conferencing tool where students/groups can give live presentations
- Training Webinars - see “Keep Teaching” series and others
- Link to Ed Tech Resources (confluence/videos),
- Consultation: Contact CETL for Consultations
- Workshops: Attend CETL Workshops and Webinars
- One-on-one Consultations with CETL Staff
- Resource Guides
9. Assessment Pedagogical Resources
- Designing & Developing Online Assessments | UConn eCampus Article
- Pros and Cons of Assessments Types in Online Courses | Gloria Rogers
- Choosing the Right Assessment Tools | Based on Fulks, Janet, “Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges”
- 10 Assessment Design Tips for Increasing Online Student Retention, Satisfaction and Learning | Bernard Bull EdD, Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning
- How Can I Assess Students in My Online Classes through Student-Created Videos? | The Teaching Professor
- Formative Assessment Techniques for Online Learning | Emily Faulconer and Beverly Wood
- A Glossary of Terms Used in Educational Assessment | M. Freedman and J. Houtz, National Association for Gifted Children
- Assignment Library | National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
Significant portions of this guidance are adapted, with permission, from the University of Maryland site "Keep teaching during prolonged campus or building closures" and Indiana University Knowledge Base article "Keep teaching during prolonged campus or building closures."
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