Evaluating Your Students

All the work that teachers are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic shows generosity, collaboration, and resilience during this time of change. It is challenging work moving classes only and managing the logistics of all the details. You are just trying to find the best way for your students and yourself, from online communications to video conferencing platforms.

But how are supposed to assess your students? Even though it is tempting to get rid of assessments, teachers know that even thinking about doing it is going to require compromising student’s learning.

In order to stay away from shortchanging your students, you have to give them assignments, quizzes, and exams, but how can you do this remotely? Here are some things that can help you.

Setting Priorities

Even though remote teaching is a great way for you to see how you can meet your learning objective for your students, even though you might think of your syllabi ad a contract with your students, it’s possible to make some adjustments while keeping communication clear and transparent while you make these changes.

So, let’s look for a way you can reflect on your tasks:

  • Where could they be adjusted?
  • What would this look like?

Let’s look at some options and ways to help you decide on how you can manage your tasks during remote learning.

Timing of Assessment

Since we don’t know precisely how long this remote learning period is going to last, you might want to defer your tasks like tests and exams until this situation has cleared up. If this isn’t an option, let’s see who we can do tests.

Do A Different Test

Teaching online allows teachers an opportunity to think about how they will assess their students differently. Rather than giving a normal exam, here are some ways students can show you they have actually learned from your assignments:

  • Many smaller quizzes that replace a big exam
  • Written paper with answers to questions submitted through email or Blackboard.
  • Students give a presentation through videos, podcasts, or PowerPoint with voiceovers.
  • Making a digital poster about the main topics
  • Electronic portfolio while discussing the main topics
  • You might want to use a plagiarism checker for the PowerPoint and written assignments.

Offer Exams With Small Changes

If you prefer giving exams, but want to adapt to an online environment, one way is by converting from an in-class exam to a take-home exam:

  • The “take-home” exam only needs short answers with more analytical questions. For remote learners, you just set it at a different time other than your regular class time. It will be more like a homework assignment.
  • They can be submitted through email or Blackboard.

You Prefer Traditional Exams

If you don’t want to make any changes to the way you give exams, you can create the test through Blackboard.

  • If this is new to your class, give them practice exams so your students can test their access and technology skills as well as getting used to tests being timed.
  • You can give them essay questions, short answers, or multiple choice depending on your method.

Keeping the Exam’s Integrity

Keeping academic integrity while remotely learning can be challenging. Blackboard allows you to create secure conditions, but you can try some of these options to encourage integrity:

  • Have your students submit a signed conduct statement.
  • If your exam is multiple-choice, have an enormous question bank so specific questions can be random.
  • Randomize the order of questions within the exams and have just one question on each page; this will cut down on the student’s ability to share their answers.
  • Again use a plagiarism checker for long exam answers.

Accessibility Problems

Remember, if any of your students have disabilities, you need to give them more time to do the exams or check with disability services.

Keep in mind that not every student will have access to Wi-Fi, software, a laptop, etc. You will need to be flexible if students have a hard time taking an exam online. Pick a specific time for your exams. Find out if there are ways you can have them show you that they know the material.

Simple Ways to Reduce Cheating

The end of an academic term brings final exams and assessments to test a student’s knowledge of the course materials. The need for giving exams in an online environment is ever increasing. Most teachers are hesitant to include exams in their online classes due to the potential of compromised integrity. Virtual proctoring technology might be too expensive and not part of the teacher’s online learning infrastructure. Having a student take a test under an online proctor might impact a student’s success. Even if you don’t have expensive proctoring tools, there are ways you can leverage the features within their learning system to lessen the chances of cheating during exams online. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Create Questions That Makes Them Think More

Rather than having your students respond to questions that they can answer by looking in their textbooks or doing a web search, makeup questions that are on the evaluation, synthesis, and analysis levels. This will be more challenging than just looking up an answer. The answer will require the student to evaluate, compose, create, infer, analyze, explain, and show they have mastered the course.

  • Make Students Sign an Integrity Contract

After they have watched the integrity video, the student has to electronically sign a contract that shows what you consider to be cheating. You can include any links that you might find necessary and make sure they have signed the contract before they begin the exam. You can have them a sign, scan, and upload the contract before the exam. You can make this a gradable assignment. If they don’t do it, they won’t get a grade, and they can’t take the exam.

  • Use Various Kinds of Questions

Don’t make your exams have just all true and false or multiple-choice questions. They need to include open-ended questions. It will be harder for students to give the same response to their friend’s word for word for open-ended questions. Students have to explain their responses using certain details and narratives that are unique to how they understand the course.

  • Restrict the Testing Window

This is similar to the exams are held at schools. Every final will have a specific time slot for every course’s test. You can do the same thing online. Have each student begin the test at the same time and limit the amount of time the student has to finish the exam. Although the exam will be an “open book,” you still need to give them enough time to successfully complete the exam but not too much time for the students who haven’t studied to be able to find the answers in the book. Make sure to create a timed setting for any student who has been preapproved and needs special accommodations.

  • Remind Students About Their Integrity Policies

Create a video that explains the exam’s guidelines and go over the school’s integrity policy and any consequences that have been listed on the syllabus. There might be some psychological impacts on the students after they see and hear their instructor talking about their academic integrity right before they start an exam. This might change any student’s mind who was thinking about cheating.

  • Stop Them From Backtracking

Make them focus on just one question at a time. Once they have answered the problem, then they can move to the next one. Stopping them from backtracking can prevent the students from using any extra time to try and find the right answer. This forces them to answer the questions to the best of their ability.

  • Set Up The Test To Just How One Question on a Page

To keep your students from looking at all the questions and having multiple tabs open to research all the answers, or even having friends or family answer some of their questions, choose the setting that allows just one question to appear on the screen.

  • Give Differing Versions of The Same Text

You should always have various versions of the same test, so if multiple students are taking the same test at the same place, it won’t be possible for them to cheat off of each other.

  • Change Up the Question Sequence

Within the test set, you can choose to have the order of the questions to be different for every exam, along with the order of choices for that particular question. Students today are very tech-savvy and might attempt to use screen sharing to try and take the exam with their classmates so they can share answers.

  • They Only Get To Take The Test Once

There usually isn’t a chance to retake a final exam when in person, so you need to follow this same rule for online testing, too.

  • Don’t Use Test Banks Verbatim

It is very convenient to have access to test banks that come with textbooks, but students might be able to access those same books when they have been added online, and this might include the answers, too. Think about using questions as inspirations and change them up just enough so that students don’t realize it is the same question just being asked differently. You could change up the way the answer choices have been worded.

  • Expect Technical Problems

Give your students a practice exam that has a few questions that don’t pertain to the real test. This will give them a chance to get familiar with the features of the online test. This will also allow you to stay away from future problems with students who aren’t familiar with online technology. Set the settings so that it can automatically end the exam when the students exit out or if the time ends. By doing this, if the student claims their computer crashed, you can see the exam and see what questions they have answered already. If you allow them to finish the exam, you can have them begin where they stopped and continue with the time they had left.

  • Protect The Answers

If a student asks to look at their test, just show them the questions that they answered wrong. This limits the student from copying and downloading all of the questions for the students who might take your class the next semester.

  • Delay Their Scores

Set a date after the testing window has ended for the students to access their scores. Never make their scores available right after they have completed the test. By doing this, if a student finishes early, they can’t see their score and then tell the other students who haven’t finished yet. You might have to hide them in the grade center, so the students don’t see the test questions or scores.

How teachers have to design their online assessments might be different than they would in a normal classroom setting; they can still use the ideas above to safeguard their exams and keep their academic integrity. This lets them see how well their students have learned their course.