Testing, Proctoring, and Alternative Assessments
Assessing learning in online environments poses new challenges for instructors and students. There is no magical solution to these challenges, technical or otherwise. However, well-designed exams, varied assessment approaches, clear communication about the importance of academic integrity, and a sense of community responsibility among students are all critical elements. Virginia Tech provides a suite of recommended tools and promotes best practices for testing, proctoring, and alternative assessments, as described in the sections below. Every discipline has unique needs for assessment, and every approach to assessment has its strengths and weaknesses.
In online or hybrid courses, instructors may want to consider options beyond administering online exams, including project- and problem-based approaches, presentations, portfolios, writing assignments, and other options for both formative and summative assessments that require a student’s unique response. The best approach may very well be a combination of strategies, tools, and options.
Recommended Best Practices for Effective Assessment
As you consider your approach to testing and assessment, the following suggestions can help you foster a culture of learning that supports academic integrity and emphasizes key learning outcomes in courses.
- Encourage students to complete the Office of Undergraduate Academic Integrity’s online module.
- As assessment measures the extent to which learning objectives have been achieved, consider these objectives and the essential elements of your course to determine when tests and quizzes are necessary, and when alternative approaches to assessment may be more effective. Remember that assessment strategies must be determined within the context of the specific circumstances of each individual course.
- Become familiar with Virginia Tech’s supported assessment tools (listed below), including those for non-testing assessment options.
- Take full advantage of training and support offered in the design of your testing and alternative formative and summative assessment options.
- Consider using peer review and feedback as a strategy for formative assessments to support student success.
- When using timed testing to assess learning, use large question pools and question randomization to reduce the likelihood of cheating.
- Create well-designed rubrics to support the grading of project- and problem-based assessments.
- Build flexibility into alternative assessment options to accommodate variations in student needs and to acknowledge the unique challenges students may be facing this semester.
- Students with accommodations for proctored testing can be served by Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). The Werth Testing Center in Lavery Hall can accommodate up to 24 students at a time with distancing required in response to COVID-19. If additional on-site proctoring for students with accommodations is required, alternate sites and methods can be explored. SSD will provide support staff for proctoring groups of accommodated students in other locations for faculty, determined on a case-by-case basis. Additional information about this topic can be found on the Accessibility and Accommodations page.
Licensed Tools and Support Resources
The following tools can help you develop your approach to assessment, whether you are teaching in a classroom or online. For more information, including support materials and training options, follow the links provided for each tool. You can find several self-paced training options for assessment and evaluation tools on TLOS’s On-Demand Training website. If you have questions about any of these tools, submit a 4Help incident referencing the specific tool and providing as much information as possible. For a full list of assessment-related training workshops, visit TLOS’s Professional Development Network catalog.
Respondus LockDown Browser: This tool locks down a student’s web browser in which the test is opened so that no other tabs can be opened in that browser.
Respondus Monitor: This tool works in conjunction with LockDown Brower to record students via webcam while they take exams. Recordings are flagged by the software when there is suspicious activity. Respondus Monitor does not provide a “live” view of the student taking the exam; instructors or TAs must view the flagged sections in the recording to determine if cheating has occurred.
Respondus 4.0 (Windows only): This software streamlines the creation of exams and question banks offline using a Windows interface, which can then be published directly to Canvas. Respondus 4.0 is especially useful for converting exams in MS Word format to Canvas exams.
Canvas Rubric Builder: Add a rubric to an assignment to help students understand expectations for the assignment and how you intend to score their submissions. In addition to assignments, rubrics can also be added to graded discussions and quizzes.
Canvas Quizzes: The Quizzes tool contains options that help enhance quiz security, allow quizzes to be imported from other programs that use the QTI file format, and accommodate various needs of students through the quiz moderation tool. Question banks can also be developed that can be transferred across multiple Canvas sites.
Canvas SpeedGrader: SpeedGrader makes it easy to evaluate individual student assignments and group assignments quickly. SpeedGrader displays assignment submissions for active students in your course.
Canvas MasteryPaths: MasteryPaths allow you to customize learning experiences for students based on their performance. You can enable MasteryPaths to automatically assign coursework based on the score achieved for a previous assignment. This provides multiple opportunities to show and achieve mastery in a course.
Canvas Peer Feedback: You can manually assign peer reviews or choose to have Canvas automatically assign peer reviews for you. You can also choose to allow students to see other students’ names in peer reviews or make them anonymous.
Portfolium: Portfolium is a portfolio-building tool that integrates into Canvas. It offers free-for-life accounts for students and a full set of assessment tools for instructors to adopt portfolio-based assignments in their courses.
Turnitin: Turnitin Plagiarism Framework in Canvas is a plagiarism detection system used in education to promote academic integrity and emphasize the importance of accurately citing sources.
iThenticate: Graduate students can use iThenticate to review their written materials (e.g., papers, article drafts, responses to qualifying or prelim exam prompts, drafts of thesis/dissertation). Faculty can use the software to review their written documents (e.g., articles, grant proposals).
EquatIO: This tool simplifies the creation of digital mathematical and chemical expressions and equations. EquatIO includes a text editor and recognizes handwriting, screenshots, LaTeX, and speech input.
- Ten Principles of Academic Integrity for Faculty (PDF), from the Academic Integrity Seminar
- Fourteen Simple Strategies to Reduce Cheating on Online Examinations, from Faculty Focus
- Academic Integrity Online Tips for Faculty, from VT’s Office of Undergraduate Academic Integrity)
- Preparing for Flexible Teaching (self-paced course), from Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies
- Remote Testing and Assessment guidelines, from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning