Remote Assessments

Remote Assessments

This guide has been drawn up most of all with the instructors in mind who work with large enrollment and are accustomed to testing by means of written exams. Below is an overview of currently available remote assessment options. Please toggle each section for available tools, best practices, and/or contact information.

Please note that you can always contact the CELT Response Team at 515-294-5357 for assistance to find the optimal solution.

1. Determine the acceptable evidence of learning

Your learning goals are an excellent place to start when considering alternative assessments. Read through respond to the following questions about the assessment:

  • What can I do to promote student learning while we all are coping with COVID-19?
  • What do I hope students will be able to do by the end of my course?
  • What ways can they demonstrate what they know?
  • How can I make it more meaningful/authentic?
  • How can I incorporate knowledge creation?
  • How can I leverage the online context? 

2. Consider the impact of proctored exams at this time

Traditional timed, proctored exams are possible using the tools available in Canvas along with remote proctoring tools (e.g., Lockdown Browser with Respondus Monitor) or proctor it yourself with Webex. However, proctored remote exams have several drawbacks:

  1. They are often even more stressful for students than in-person proctored exams, which can negatively impact student performance.
  2. They require substantial planning and setup on the part of the instructor and the student, and Respondus Monitor can generate many “false positive” flags that must be reviewed by an instructor after the exam.
  3. Not all students have access to the appropriate technology to use services like Respondus Monitor; instructors will have to make accommodations for such students.
  4. Students may have privacy concerns about third-party recorded remote proctoring. Unlike when students agree to the use of such systems when they register for online courses, students did not agree to remote instruction when they registered for spring 2020. Instructors will need to make accommodations for these students.
  5. Finally, these tools are not a recommended assessment solution in the current COVID-19 situation. Introducing new software and testing procedures at this point in the semester puts significant burden on students on top of the usual stress of an exam, changes expectations mid-semester, and introduces inequities based on technology access and financial standing.  Therefore, faculty should consider other assessment strategies as they adjust to the current situation, only using proctored exams when no other options work (e.g., due to accreditation rules).

For these reasons, during this time, we recommend using alternatives to timed, proctored exams wherever possible. Large enrollment courses reliant on in-person exams should consider open-book exams or frequent low-stakes assessments as alternative assessment strategies that are relatively easy to grade. See the sections below for details and advice.

3. Choose the suitable remote assessment method

Changing a course from face-to-face to online teaching poses particular challenges. One challenge will be finding an appropriate way to assess your students,

Review the following options as alternatives to proctored exams:

This project gives students choice in selecting works while assessing their higher-order abilities to evaluate sources, compare multiple perspectives, and provide rationales for their choices.

To set this assessment up, use the Assignments Instructional Strategies page.

A student-selected portfolio of work from the semester. Students compile their best or representative work from the semester, writing a critical introduction to the portfolio and a brief introduction to each piece.

Ask students to submit them in a digital format.

For example, students might take a photograph of a poster and submit it, or submit the digital file they created (if they created the poster in PowerPoint, for example). They can do this via a Canvas assignment.

To set this assessment up, use the Assignments Instructional Strategies page.

Students create a one-page fact sheet on a topic. Students must select relevant facts and explain them clearly and concisely.

To set this assessment up, use the Assignments Instructional Strategies page.

Group projects require students to demonstrate mastery of subject matter and develop their ability to communicate and work collaboratively.

Set clear expectations for individual contributions. Set general directions with a rubric explaining how the final product will be assessed. It is imperative to identify individual contributions and expectations for each team member.

Assign individual and team grades for the team assignments. 

Assess process as well as product and monitor the online group space.

Develop a template for peer feedback and share it with students prior to the project.

Resources:

 

Creative assignments work best when they have some “real-world” relevance and offer students some choice in delivery format.

Reflective Papers

If the class is experiential in nature (e.g., student teaching, performance), ask the students to write a reflective paper/critique of their experience. The key here is to make them tie this to theory or themes in the course so that it doesn’t become an effusion of personal feeling. Even in non-experiential/performance courses, a reflective paper can be very useful. Some classes ask students to add a reflection to a term paper.

To use this option, set it up as a assignment in Canvas.

If it has multiple essays, you could make each into a separate assignment, or combine them into one assignment and allow students to choose which essay topic they address in their response.

Many disciplines already have a tradition of take-home exams, typically involving more conceptual or applied questions that students cannot quickly look up in a textbook.

For guidance on how best to employ this option, use the Open Book Exams Instructional Strategies page.

These allow for personal reflection on learning and peer-to-peer instruction, both of which reinforce and deepen understanding.

Don’t assume your students know how to peer review: Students may not know how to comment on one another’s work in a constructive way.

Targeted rubrics laying out expectations for student work are very helpful.

Learn more from CELT’s Peer Assessment page.

Students can create audiovisual presentations using a variety of media, such as PowerPoint, Prezi, and other tools.

To set this up, use the Assignments Instructional Strategies page.

Then, share with your students how-to upload to Studio and embed it into their Assignment, use the Studio in Canvas page.

Quizzes offer a low-stakes opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of material and give you ongoing information about student understanding. Frequent quizzing has also been shown to reinforce student understanding. Learning management systems can randomize questions in quizzes, making cheating more difficult.

For next steps, use the Quizzes and Exams Instructional Strategies page.

Writing quiz questions both builds and demonstrates students’ understanding of the material. This assignment can be structured as a collaborative group activity.

For ideas on how-to implement, visit the Collaboration Tools Instructional Strategies page.

4. Communicate clearly with your students

Provide an announcement that contains information about the exam and ensure that students contact you with any questions. To help outline your communication to them clarify details using these guiding questions:

  • What is the format of the exam?
  • When will the final exam be?
  • What am I allowed to use during the exam?
  • What am I NOT allowed to use during the exam?
  • What does the exam cover?
  • Will there be a practice final exam?
  • What happens if there are technical issues? What if I need a makeup?
  • What about cheating? Monica Lamm, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering shared these academic integrity statements with her students:
    • Academic integrity statement. We will not employ any technological features to try and prevent cheating directly. Instead, we will rely on the integrity of our students to take the test in a manner consistent with what we have outlined here. We have made a large number of resources available for you to use during the exam, in addition to the practice exam, which will help give you a notion of what to study. In particular, for this exam, you do not have to cheat to do well.
    • Academic integrity pledge. I understand that academic integrity is expected of all Iowa State University students, at all times. My submission of this assessment for grading certifies that I have read and understood the ground rules. I pledge that I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this assessment.

References and Resources

Parner, L. L. (2020, June 25). Alternatives to the traditional exam as measures of student learning outcomes. The Scholarly Teacher. Retrieved (June 25, 2020) from https://www.scholarlyteacher.com/post/alternatives-to-the-traditional-exam-as-measures-of-student-learning-outcomes.

Woldeab, D., & Brothen, T. (2019). 21st Century Assessment: Online Proctoring, Test Anxiety, and Student Performance. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 34(1), 1-10.

 


Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), Iowa State University’s Remote Assessment, is a derivative of Remote Exams and Assessments, used under BY-NC-SA and retrieved on April 17, 2020 from Rutger University’s Remote Exams and Assessments website (https://coronavirus.rutgers.edu/resources-for-faculty/remote-exams-and-assessments/).  This work, Remote Assessment, is by Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), Iowa State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.