Assessments in the Age of Remote Teaching

In the move to quickly get courses up and running for remote delivery, instructors didn’t have a lot of time to ponder deep pedological and design questions around assessments. Much of the focus instead was on the more immediate and practical questions about how to create an online exam and how to reduce opportunities for cheating.

It’s probably worth mentioning that online assessments can, and maybe even should, look different than face-to-face assessments. Given time, faculty who continue to teach remotely may begin to find different ways to test student mastery of course outcomes including project-based assessments, problem-solving “interviews,” or a portfolio of work over the quarter. On the other hand, some faculty will want to stick with their tried and true “traditional” exams, particularly in certain courses where a standardized test is required for a certificate or license.

Strategies for Securing Canvas Quizzes/Exams

If the traditional exam is your choice for assessment and cheating is on your mind, you can get some good ideas on how to reduce the opportunities for cheating on this blog, Fourteen Simple Strategies to Reduce Cheating on Online Examinations (Smith Budhai, 2020). Many of the strategies offered in this article are settings you can control in your Canvas quizzes. If you’re not sure how to change the settings in a quiz, please fill out an eLearning Request Center ticket or drop in during our open Zoom office hours (M-F, 10:00 – 3:00). Alternatively, you may choose to tackle this on your own by viewing some of the helpful resources in the Canvas guides listed below.

Technology for Securing Exams

In addition to using the internal settings within Canvas to make quizzes more secure, you may want to consider using one of the two external online proctoring services available to Bellevue College instructors and students this term, Respondus Lockdown Browser/Monitor and Honorlock. Each of these options can be launched within Canvas. At this point, Honorlock is reserved for specific departments/instructors that use 3rd party exams.

When a Canvas quiz/exam is set up to launch within a lockdown browser students will not be able to open any additional webpages while taking the exam. Depending on the settings you choose students can be asked to show ID prior to taking the test and to leave their camera and microphone on during the test. While not fully secure the use of an online proctoring tool such as Respondus Lockdown Browser can act as a deterrent to cheating.

Considerations: Equity, Access, and Privacy

If you choose to use Respondus Lockdown Browser/Monitor or Honorlock, keep in mind that the more security settings you choose the more difficult it will be for students to access the exam. Not all students have a webcam so requiring one during exams could pose a problem. Webcam supplies worldwide are limited and students may not be able to obtain one for many weeks. In addition, the Respondus Lockdown browser can only be downloaded on a device that runs Windows or Mac operating systems. This means that students who access Canvas using a Chromebook or on their phones will not be able to download the lockdown browser. Last, students who have borrowed computers from their high schools or from Bellevue College may not have the administrative rights to download any software and will not be able to download the required browser.

Please keep in mind that some students with accommodations may use technologies that help them access course material. Work with the DRC to figure out whether requiring Respondus Lockdown Browser/Monitor or Honorlock would render these support technologies inaccessible to these students. If so, you may be required to create multiple copies or versions of an exam and turn off the lockdown requirement for some copies of the exam. In this case, you’ll soon find out that copying a quiz in Canvas is not that straightforward. To create multiple copies of a Canvas quiz/exam use the “export” option in “settings” in Canvas, then re-import the exam as a QTI-Zip file to create a new question bank. You can create multiple copies of the quiz/exam in Canvas using the uploaded question bank.

Last, bear in mind that requiring an ID check and the use of a webcam during an exam puts students’ privacy at risk. Review the privacy statements for all technology you require and make those statements readily available to your students.

We’re here to help

As you continue to meet your students’ needs during these strange times, please know that all of us in eLearning are here to support you. Our Zoom office hours are M-F, 10:00 am-3:00 pm. We can help you think creatively about issues you might be facing, offer support around a specific technology, troubleshoot problems, or brainstorm solutions with you.

Betsy Zahrt Geib, Adjunct Instructor and Instructional Designer

Last Updated May 12, 2020