Teaching & Learning Resource Center

Adapting for Remote Assessments

Review the following considerations when planning your online exams and assignments, and consider the suggested strategies to facilitate the types of assessments in your course. 

Planning considerations 

Emergency situations may necessitate a shift in a course’s mode of delivery. Should a situation prevent students from attending class in person, you will want to be prepared to deliver your course partially or fully online. Such a shift may require changes to the types of assessments you typically include. The following resources and options are meant to provide a starting place for adjusting exams and assignments online. 

Supporting Students 

Students, whether familiar with online learning or not, may experience limitations to access that require your flexibility: for example, loss of access to preferred devices or software, inconsistent high-speed internet, varying time zones, personal illness, or family obligations. 

  • Supporting all students: Communicate regularly with your students to assess their changing needs and consider where you can be flexible with due dates, provide participation windows, and offer alternative ways to access course content. 
  • Supporting students in other time zones or overseas: Emergency situations may require students to move off-campus and return home. Consider expanding the time window for exams or scheduled final assignments, or offer alternatives at different times of day, so that students in different time zones can participate. 
  • Supporting students who have disabilities: If students need accommodations because of a disability, contact Student Life Disability Services to determine the right support. 

Learn more about Supporting Student Learning In Your Course. 

Academic integrity 

Students commit academic misconduct because they are anxious about their performance, unable to meet deadlines, or do not understand the rules and expectations for assignments. All of these stressors are heightened in emergency situations. The Committee on Academic Misconduct has provided the following recommendations to help reduce the inclination to cheat: 

  • Give students clear expectations about how to cite their sources in written responses.  
  • Consider alternative modes of assessment, as it may not be possible to monitor students’ use of outside resources. 
  • Enable Turnitin for written final papers, and let students know you will be checking for plagiarism.  
  • Articulate a clear and detailed policy on collaboration with peers and communication about assignments.
  • Provide guidance for students to access library resources remotely.  

Learn more about taking A Positive Approach to Academic Integrity and Strategies and Tools for Academic Integrity in Online Environments

Midterm and final exams in a remote context 

If you’re offering a midterm or final exam remotely through CarmenCanvas, you may find it helpful to review the following topics. Your remote exam approach will be a balance of your assessment goals, the student experience, technology tradeoffs, and your own time for grading or for reviewing proctoring results. 

Remember that exams—and especially remote-proctored exams—may cause anxiety for students. Communicate regularly with your students to assess their changing needs.

Adjusting the format for a remote exam 

The remote context for the exam may include some adjustments to its format, length, and overall expectations. Some of these strategies may help you avoid the need for remote proctoring or other elements of high-stakes in-person testing that may be problematic online. 

  • To keep grading manageable, create a rubric in Carmen by identifying the essential components of the midterm or exam. The Carmen Quiz tool can provide automatic feedback and grading for many question types, which can provide you with more time to grade essay or short answer responses. Where possible, ask fewer questions or design questions to engage with students’ understanding of bigger concepts rather than exhaustively assessing specific details. For more information, review the ODEE workshop recording for Effective Grading in CarmenCanvas
  • Make your expectations for academic integrity clear in the exam directions. You can ask students to sign and submit an integrity commitment before the exam takes place or create a first or last question within the exam asking them to commit to your integrity expectations. For more, review the ODEE workshop recording for Academic Integrity in Online Courses or the Strategies and Tools for Academic Integrity in Online Environments guide.  
  • Another option is to offer a take-home style exam where students can type lengthy written responses and submit as a file upload. Handwritten equation or diagram answers can be photographed (using a scanning app such as Microsoft Office Lens) and submitted as images. 
Setting up the Carmen Quiz tool 

Create either a midterm or final exam in Carmen using the Quiz tool and adapt any pre-existing questions and quiz settings as necessary to accommodate the online modality. Find more information about Quiz setup view this brief video tutorial on Carmen quizzes

  • Review the Canvas instructor guide on quiz settings to become familiar with the various options for quiz timing, security, randomization, feedback, and more. 
  • As students adjust to working in online testing environments during a high-stress time, they may need more time than usual to navigate the interface, process questions, and type their answers, particularly if they must diagram or create equations using LaTeX notation. 
  • If you are using a timed exam, allow for more time than you would normally provide (for example, what takes 55 minutes in class might now take 90). In your quiz settings, double-check your time limit, due date, and the window for availability to offer students as much flexibility as is reasonable. The Canvas instructor guide for due dates and availability dates offers more details. 
  • If you are concerned about academic misconduct, you might consider writing additional questions and using quiz bank and randomization options, and you might insert more open-ended questions, including ones that ask students to describe how they arrived at an answer. Learn more about Strategies and Tools for Academic Integrity in Online Environments
Considering remote proctoring 

Review the following considerations before implementing a virtual proctoring tool (such as Proctorio). 

Understanding the student experience 

Automated remote proctoring tools work by recording a student’s screen and webcam and marking indicators of possible breaches of exam integrity. The tools will typically look for unexpected sounds and changes in light, depending on the sensitivity an instructor has configured in the settings. A roommate walking by, a baby crying in the room next door, a child coming by with their tablet to get help with schoolwork, or a dog coming around to say hello could all create “flags.”  

These types of tools cause anxiety for some students, on top of normal test anxiety, especially if students perceive that the software and its algorithms are making automatic determinations about cheating. If you employ a virtual proctoring tool, there are steps you can take to lessen these anxieties and humanize the experience. 

  • Indicate to your students your primary concerns about academic integrity and inform them of procedures for raising concerns about issues during their recorded session. 
  • Emphasize that, at Ohio State, proctoring software does not make decisions about whether cheating occurred. There is a fair, well-documented academic misconduct process
  • If you have not used digital proctoring before, make sure you and your students have an opportunity to practice. Set up a practice exam for them to test the software and get used to the interface well before the exam. 

About the Proctorio remote-proctoring tool 

Proctorio is an automated remote proctoring solution that can serve as part of an academic integrity strategy for exams and other assessments. 

Because Proctorio requires a desktop or laptop with specific software and access privileges, it's crucial to identify ahead of time any student who may not have access to that technology and would need a different arrangement that still allows the student to take the assessment, safely, without additional fees. Please consult with your department or college leadership to determine appropriate alternative arrangements. (Note that mobile devices such as iPads do not work with remote proctoring solutions, although many products, including some in use at Ohio State, have plans to eventually institute this functionality.) 

Because any high-stakes, closed-book exam is prone to cheating, and because any virtual proctoring tool is imperfect and will not address all factors related to academic integrity(for example, sharing information about questions online post-exam), longer-term strategies are recommended for designing more robust forms of exams. 

If you choose to proctor an exam, Proctorio is available to use in Carmen quizzes

If you have not used digital proctoring before, make sure you and your students have an opportunity to practice. Set up a practice exam for them to test the software and get used to the interface well before the exam. 

Even if students have used digital proctoring before, provide additional support for tool use, practice, and reassurance to help them prepare. 

Limitations 

  • Virtual proctoring tools do not detect cheating without instructor review and decision making. If you suspect cheating, you can review the Proctorio recording and include that as evidence in a referral to COAM. 
  • Virtual proctoring options require specific devices (PC or Mac laptop or desktop) and Wi-Fi access. Include these requirements in the syllabus. Work with your students to determine who needs an alternative based on their available technology.  
  • If you have students who are working on iPads and tablets or who will not have Wi-Fi access for the duration of the exam, work with your department or college leaders to make alternative arrangements for those students. 
  • Proctorio may not be accessible for students who are completing their coursework from other countries. Additionally, you may want to consider adjustments to your scheduled exam window if you have students in other time zones or overseas. 
  • Proctorio does not meet ADA requirements for accessibility. If you have students who require accommodations, work with the Office of Student Life Disability Services to develop an accommodation plan with an alternative form of proctoring. 

Proctoring an Exam in ExamSoft 

ExamSoft is a digital testing platform that is paired with in-person proctoring in some departments. 
 
If your academic program uses ExamSoft for a major exam that needs to be proctored (usually for professional graduate degrees with external accreditation requirements related to exams), please work with your department leaders to determine how to proceed. These proctoring options will likely require additional staff support, scheduling, and financial considerations.  

Using ExamSoft for remote exams by purchasing their add-on proctoring service: Academic programs can choose to extend their use of ExamSoft for remote proctoring through ExamSoft’s fee-based virtual proctoring add-on. You will need to require students to add two new apps to their devices: ExamID and ExamMonitor.   

Limitations 

  • ExamSoft’s virtual proctoring add-on will currently only work on a laptop or desktop computer with high-speed internet. 
  • ExamSoft does not meet ADA requirements for accessibility. If you have students who require accommodations, work with the Office of Student Life Disability Services to develop an accommodation plan with an alternative form of proctoring. 
Planning ahead for alternative forms of assessment 

Any high-stakes, closed-book exam is prone to attempts at cheating, and virtual proctoring tools are imperfect and will not address all factors related to the integrity of the exam (for example, sharing information about questions online after the exam). If an emergency situation spans multiple semesters and remote assessments might still be required, consider the possibilities of changing your assessment approach. 

Start with your learning outcomes; choose assignments that show whether students have met them. This may mean assessing concepts in ways that are new to you. Information-recall questions (the types of things that are easy to Google search) are not the most effective way to assess learning in online courses. 

Authentic assessments work very well for the online environment. These assignments or exam questions ask students to engage with complex tasks through real-life content, audiences, and formats (e.g., create a plan of care, create a statistical model, troubleshoot a problem, pitch an idea). 

Learn more about alternatives to traditional finals. Workshops, consultations, and web resources are also available for instructors to engage in this type of course-redesign planning. 


Technology solutions for other assessment types 

If you are planning assessments other than exams, there are technology solutions that instructors have found to be effective for the remote context. 

My class has upcoming...

Major Assignments 

Many classes have a major assignment that takes the form of a paper, written or visual project, data analysis, or some other written document. 

These assignment types can be submitted via Carmen using the Assignments tool. When you create an assignment in Carmen, the gradebook item is automatically created. Double-check that the assignment type is Online and allows for file submissions. 

  • Communicate regularly with your students to assess their changing needs. Emergency situations may cause reduced access to resources or changes in their work, childcare, or health that will interrupt their learning. 
  • Consider if achievement of learning outcomes for a particular assignment can be demonstrated in multiple ways. If so, offer options for various submission types. 
  • Use the assignment template found in the Carmen Course template to help clarify assignment expectations and detail how students will complete each assignment. 
  • Include the due dates when using the Assignment tool, as these will populate in other tools in Carmen, such as students’ To Do lists and calendars. 
  • Assignments can also be submitted using the Carmen Discussion tool. Students can complete discussion thread questions either individually or in groups. The Discussion tool permits text or video posts, and students can also respond to peer submissions as a component of the assignment. 
  • To keep grading manageable, identify the essential components of the assignment and use those to create a rubric in Carmen. You can then use the SpeedGrader tool to score the assignment using the rubric. SpeedGrader will allow you to provide either written or audio feedback in addition to the rubric. 
  • If you are concerned about academic misconduct, use the built-in Turnitin plagiarism check tool in Carmen. 
  • Make your expectations for academic integrity clear in the assignment directions, especially about collaboration with peers. 
Individual or Group Presentation 

There are many options—including some very straightforward ones—for students to create a presentation and submit it to Carmen. When deciding from among the following options, you might keep your students’ access to preferred devices and to stable high-speed internet in mind.  

There are many options—including some very straightforward ones—for students to create a presentation and submit it to Carmen. When deciding from among the following options, you might keep your students’ access to preferred devices and to stable high-speed internet in mind.  

Options

  • Video recording: Students can record a slide presentation in PowerPoint (on a laptop or desktop) or in a recorded Zoom session, which they can then submit to Carmen by uploading the video or providing a link. Learn more about setting up a video assignment
  • Slides and notes: If students don’t have access to a microphone or webcam or lack reliable high-speed internet, they could alternatively create a PowerPoint file with notes or a text script in lieu of narration. This could also drastically reduce your grading time, allowing greater opportunities to give feedback to students.  
  • Zoom meetings: If you feel the presentation must be live, offer multiple time slots and allow students to sign up for times that work for them.  
  • Virtual poster session: If having students share work is essential to the project, a discussion board in Carmen could be used to create a virtual poster session. Each student can post their presentation and give feedback to others. Offer options for peer feedback, including text or audio responses. In large courses, use the Groups tool to create small (4-8 student) groups and ask them to comment on two others so everyone receives feedback.   

Planning Considerations

  • Practice first: Have students submit a few slides as a rough or practice draft to get used to the process.  
  • Assess only the key course outcomes: Unless digital recording and virtual public speaking skills are part of the learning outcomes, keep the grading and feedback focused on the content rather than the delivery.  
  • Provide support: Make the instructions and support resources (software and submission tutorials) available in multiple places (syllabus and in the assignment itself).
Practical/Performance 

Practical or applied exams could be prerecorded or conducted live, depending on the needs of instructors or students

  • If a committee must interact with the student live, schedule a Zoom meeting.  
  • If the performance can be recorded, create a Carmen assignment and allow students to upload a video file or share a link to a streaming video. Learn more about setting up a video assignment

Limitations 

These options require a device with a camera and microphone and high-speed internet access. Work with your students to determine who needs an alternative based on their available technology. 

Graduate Thesis / Competency Exam / Proposal 

In an emergency situation, you may need to shift to a videoconference format for candidacy exams, thesis oral exams, or dissertation defenses. The Graduate School will issue protocols regarding the need for a petition. You can schedule a Zoom meeting and incorporate a very basic identity verification step to meet the Graduate School’s requirements for protecting exam integrity. For undergraduate exams in this format, your department can use these same recommendations to guide its planning.  

Zoom setup for integrity

  • Schedule a Zoom meeting with appropriate security settings to require authentication so that only invited participants are able to enter. 
  • The student’s advisor should draft and sign a document verifying the student’s identity.  

Planning considerations

  • Discuss your expectations as a committee before the defense  and share them with your student. Expect longer delays for processing questions and providing verbal answers. Exams should be scheduled for 2½ hours, which affords one extra half hour for any potential technical difficulties. 
  • If students will be expected to diagram, draw, or show visual elements, make those expectations and a list of required materials available to them well ahead of time. 

Limitations

  • Zoom videoconference meetings require a device with a camera and microphone and high-speed internet access. Work with your students to determine who needs an alternative based on their available technology.  
  • If you have students who will not have internet access for the duration of the exam, work with your department chair to find access alternatives. The Graduate School asks faculty to be as flexible as possible with their graduate students in making arrangements.  


Strategies for more efficient grading

No matter the approach you take to your assessments, adapting to remote contexts, shifting timelines, and alternative assessment types will likely require some adjustments to your grading process. Use the strategies below to make grading more streamlined and efficient.

  • For multiple-choice exams, use the Carmen grading functions as much as possible. You can preload feedback on correct and incorrect answers so students know why they have missed the mark.

  • Use rubrics, even if they are not as complete as you would normally make them. Provide the rubric for assignments as early as possible so that students know your expectations ahead of time and will hand in better quality assignments.

  • Copy and paste common feedback comments to quickly give both positive and corrective feedback using SpeedGrader. Limit in-depth individual feedback. Some students don't look at or use instructor comments on their work. Find out which students want detailed feedback and only give those students specific comments. If this is a final and there are no more opportunities to show you this skill, what two or three points of feedback will help a student in future work beyond your course?

  • When you see common errors, mark a few examples and leave feedback that this is a reoccurring problem. There is no need to mark each instance.

  • If you're grading as a team, divide up the questions so each is graded by a single person. It is easier to grade the same problem multiple times than multiple problems a single time.

You can also check out the recording of the Exams and Assignments for Online Courses workshop