Alternative End-of-year Assessment Strategies
As Education communities around the world shift into distance learning models to accommodate physical distancing, educators and administrators are looking for alternative assessment methods that maintain academic integrity and can be completed by learners at a distance.
In order to support our customers as they navigate this challenge, we wanted to share some best practices and resources that we're seeing our customers use to deal with end-of-year assessments in the absence of in-person, proctored final examinations.
- Use the LMS for online exams using proctoring tools - proctoring tools can be added to the LMS for exam surveillance and/or identity management.
Best practice Tips:
- Let learners run a test exam using the proctoring tools to make sure that they know how it works when the actual exam must be taken.
- Consider extending the use of proctoring tools already in use for online courses, and recommending that ALL online exams use the same proctoring tools across your organization. If everyone is working with the same proctoring tools, the advantage is consistency for learners and reduced strain on your IT Support teams.
- You will n????eed to have a plan in place for potential connectivity issues. What if a learner loses internet connection during the exam?
- What options are available to learners to participate in the exam if they live in a location that has low bandwidth or no WiFi connection?
- ?Keep in mind that learners are accessing the LMS using a variety of devices, including tablets and smartphones, so any online tools need to support mobile devices to ensure all learners have access.
- If you decide to use the LMS for synchronous online activities where large volumes of learners will be accessing the learning environment at the same time, please notify your organization's Brightspace Administrators who can then notify the D2L Account Team (Customer Success Manager, Technical Account Manager, or Client Sales Executive) in advance of the scheduled date so that it is included in our internal capacity planning.
- Simplify grading schemes to pass/fail grades where possible. Many higher education institutions are implementing this strategy.
- Provide guidance for specific cases where competitive GPAs may be required for medical, law or other graduate programs.
- Offer learners the option to change to pass/fail and help them carefully select an option with things like graduate admissions in mind.
- Calculate a summative grade from the outcomes of the assessments collected to date.
Alternative examination formats:
Open book Assessment
An example of this is offering Learners an open Assignment or a Quiz in the LMS for a set period like 3 hours where learners respond to Quiz questions or write an essay at home with or without an online proctoring tool.
Best Practice Tips for Open Book Exams/Assignments:
Prior to the exam, be clear to learners that they have access to their resources (clarify what resources those will be – textbook, study notes, ppts, etc.)
With open book, learners often think they don’t need to study, but that’s not the case. Consider giving a practice exam with a few questions (5-10) to demonstrate that learners do need to study and also to help set expectations of how time-consuming it can be to look for answers when you don’t know where to look. Draw emphasis on learners needing to understand the context of the material to be able to answer questions.
Along with the previous, give enough questions that completing the exam in the 2 hours will be tight so that learners don’t have ample time to randomly search their books for the answers. In Brightspace, enforce the time limit (Restrictions tab in Quiz set up)
Write tough questions that use application and analysis so learners have to show they understand the concepts, rather than basic information and memorization, which can be easily Googled searched.
If you have a large class, make questions all auto-gradable (no Long Answer) so there is no grading required – let Brightspace take care of that. Rather, spend the extra effort upfront to write good, tough questions with strong distractors.
Consider randomizing your questions and/or using question pools to help vary the questions each learner gets, to limit opportunities for sharing questions and answers, especially if learners will not all be taking the exam at the exact same time.
Provide clear instructions at the beginning of the exam (on the starting page) to reiterate what resources they can use, how long they have, how many questions will be asked, and what type of questions. This helps learners manage their own time.
It may be difficult to think about executing particular quiz questions, like labelling diagrams and maps and drawing graphs using online quiz tools, but there are workarounds. Fill in the blank questions work well for labelling; you just have to identify the parts to be labelled (and provide a word bank if you want to decrease the level of challenge). For drawings, we’re seeing a lot of clients release an assignment upon completion of the quiz, where learners can submit drawings, code snippets, and other digital outputs that allow learners to show their work.
- Worried about learners still sharing answers? Use a Question Library to pull a random set of questions so each test is unique.
- It is possible to align each level of Bloom’s level of knowledge with a type of quiz question (keep in mind, the only question type that must be manually graded is long answer; everything else can be auto-graded).
|Create|| || || ||X|| || || || || || |
|Evaluate|| ||x||X||X|| || ||X||X|| || |
|Analyze|| ||X||X||X|| || || || || || |
|Apply|| ||X|| ||X|| ||X||X||X||X||X|
|Understand|| ||X||X|| ||X||X|| || ||X||X|
|Remember||X||X||X|| ||X||X|| || || || |
Use the Assignments tool in traditional ways to create a “take-home” exams where learners are asked to respond to specific questions that do not fit in the Quiz format (ie/ essay style, long answers etc.).
- How D2L Customers are using: The instructor assigns specific content for learners to review and then asks them to submit a list of questions about the content they read. This creative use of assignments provides a simple way for educators to assess learners knowledge and is useful for generating a library of potential questions to be used in future offerings of the course.
can be used in situations where educators wish to assess learners' knowledge and comprehension in a non-written scenario. Oral exams can be used as a stand-alone observational assessment method, or they can be combined with any of the other assessment types listed in this article. Including an oral exam component builds-in some originality checking to the assessment in the absence of any proctoring tools. D2L Customer TUDelft has put together a comprehensive document outlining Guidelines on Oral Exams for Lecturers
Video Assignments make great solutions for oral exams, lab demonstrations, and final presentations that are typically done in person – no need to change the format or expectations of your assessment, just the method.
Let learners create artefacts/products and let them submit those in a portfolio environment.
Alternatives to using Brightspace Portfolio/ePortfolio:
- Learners submit multiple assignments in a Google Drive folder
- Learners submit portfolio work using your institution’s existing portfolio tool
- Learners submit a video that shares their work and allows learners to include their reflections, thoughts and intentions about their work
Exam Prep: Strategies for open book exams - a guide for learners, to help them be more successful when taking open-book exams.
Guidance for Designing Alternative Assessment Methods: COVID 19 Contingency Planning - a guide for educators looking into alternative assessment methods in the absence of in-person proctored examinations
How to make your assessment remote - a guide from TU Delft outlining their approach to remote assessment.
Alternative Assessments - a guide from McMaster University outlining their approach to alternative assessments.
If your organization is exploring an alternative assessment method that is not listed here, we'd love to hear about it! Please share in the comment section below this article.