Remote Assessment and Testing Options
Varying your approaches to assessment can support students in multiple time zones and takes into account limited access to internet connectivity, technology, proctoring services, and private study spaces. These suggestions may promote greater equity and an instructor’s ability to assess student learning beyond traditional methods. However, alternative assessments may not be possible in some remote teaching situations. There are also recommendations for modified remote assessments that promote academic integrity.
Explore these options:
- Approaches to Remote Assessment
- Promoting Academic Integrity
- Alternative Assessment
- Using Remotely-Proctored Assessments
- Additional Resources
For more on assessment - Visit the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment (external UC Davis site).
- Set realistic expectations for you and your students.
In a period of campus disruption requiring a shift to remote teaching and learning, focus on only the most essential knowledge, skills, and abilities you expect students to demonstrate by the end of the course. Take into account the degree to which students and faculty are potentially impacted by the change in the delivery of instruction. Lack of access to adequate hardware, Internet, and study space will have a significant impact on some domestic and international students’ ability to engage in coursework, as will concerns about personal health and well-being. As you consider what students will be able to demonstrate in a remote context, let go of any non-essential expectations. You may have to revise existing practices to account for current circumstances.
- Communicate with students.
Explain to students why you’re making changes. Let them know you view their learning as paramount, and want to give them every opportunity to succeed in your class, even when modifications are necessary. Things to consider when communicating with your students: a) What knowledge or skills are you evaluating in this assessment? b) What do students need to know or do? c) How does the assessment allow students to demonstrate what they know or can do?
- Enable students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways.
Instructors are encouraged to consider forms of assessment, other than online proctored exams, that will allow students to demonstrate their learning. Consider reducing the number of high-stakes assessments and moving to more frequent, lower-stakes assessments (e.g., quizzes, reflection papers, problem sets). Lower-stakes assessments typically mean examining students’ learning more frequently, with points/percentages of the grade spread over multiple intervals in the term, rather than just two or three times (e.g., two midterms, one final). Lower-stakes assessments tend to reduce stress; less stress often means a reduced inclination to rely on outside sources.
- Evaluate course changes for impacts on equity and inclusivity.
Changes made to your assessments should not harm students. When considering a possible change, ask yourself if the change could adversely affect any group of students in your class (e.g., First Generation, low income, domestic, international). Contact CEE if you have questions about this aspect of your class.
- Consider the pros and cons of each assessment method.
Each of the assessment options has strengths and limitations worth considering before you determine what methods best fit the content knowledge and skill(s) you are targeting, and your instructional context. Weigh your concerns about integrity of the assessment process against the possible learning advantages of using alternative forms of assessment. Also, consider the amount of time you and your TAs will need to modify the assessments, and to grade or provide feedback.
- Consider modifying your grading structure.
Modify your grading structure to reflect your changed approach (such as by redistributing points to multiple lower-stakes assessments). Consult with your department or with CEE for assistance.
Many faculty have concerns about academic integrity (and disincentivizing cheating) in a remote learning environment. Alongside these concerns, consider the equity and inclusivity benefits and limitations of remote teaching and learning. The following approaches can help disincentivize academic dishonesty in remote teaching situations. To read more about academic integrity, please visit our Academic Integrity page.
|Ways to promote academic integrity||How to implement|
|Have students sign an academic integrity statement prior to turning in an assessment or taking an exam.
This academic integrity statement would differ according to the instructor's discipline and assignment type. Such statements could be adapted from the relevant existing Academic Code of Conduct found at the OSSJA website.
Include the statement in your UC Davis Canvas course and/or Canvas/remote assessments. Sample Statement language.Examples from the UC Davis Psychology Department
|Give a short, low-stakes quiz on the academic integrity statements of your choice (see UCD Code of Academic Conduct). Consider making completion of this quiz a prerequisite for submitting subsequent assignments.|
|Use Turnitin.com for text-based assignments (e.g., essays and research papers).||TurnItIn for Faculty: Overview, Guidelines, and Getting Help|
|Use quiz options to shuffle answers, randomize questions, or set time limits.
Considerations for "locking" questions in Canvas.
Alternative: Qualtrics Options for Item randomization
|Have students turn in a photo of a study sheet that they’ve written by hand, and give them points for that as part of the exam.||
Students take a photo of the study sheet and upload it to Canvas in a Canvas Assignment due at the same time as their exam.
|Create assignments that require an individual response or that require students to incorporate their own data or experiences into the response.|
|Avoid concerns about students inappropriately consulting their peers by planning for them to work together on a test or assignment.|
Many assessments (e.g., research papers, team projects, lab reports) can be done remotely by students and submitted through Canvas or Gradescope, and may need little or no modification. However, some assessments (e.g., timed, multiple-choice exams) require the instructor, TAs, or a proctor to be present, and these timed, proctored exams may be inequitable options in classes where some students have limited access to the proctoring service, are studying in different time zones, or are unfamiliar with and anxious about the demands of the proctoring system. Consider the alternative assessments listed below.
|Type of assessment||Why it promotes academic integrity||How to implement|
|Frequent, low-stakes quizzes||
Because students are asked to take quizzes (or turn in short papers) frequently, each quiz (or short paper) is a low-stakes assessment. Lower-stakes typically means lower-stress; less stress often means lesser inclination to rely on outside sources.
To facilitate frequent, low-stakes quizzes or short weekly essay prompts in UC Davis Canvas, instructors may build quiz question banks from which questions can be randomly assigned to individual students. Quiz questions should include feedback to support student learning (creating feedback in New Quizzes).Bonus: Like all formative assessments, low-stakes assessments encourage students and instructors to monitor progress and to make appropriate changes.
|In very small classes, Zoom could also be used for oral exams.|
|Open book exam, untimed||Because consulting sources (e.g., a course textbook) is expected, the possibility that students will inappropriately rely on other resources to complete the exam is neutralized.
Untimed, open book exams create equitable opportunities to learn for different groups of students in remote situations (e.g., international students, students with disabilities, and students who face technology access problems).
|Gradescope Online Assignments (Beta)|
|Open book exam, timed||
Because consulting sources (e.g., a course textbook) is expected, the possibility that students will rely on inappropriate resources to complete the exam is neutralized.
Timed exams are available on Canvas and Gradescope; however, a timed exam may become an inequitable option for different groups of students in remote teaching situations (e.g., international students, students with disabilities, and students who face technology access problems). This inequity may be reduced if there is a longer window of time (e.g., 24 hours) to complete the exam. More information about open book exams can be found here.
|Two-part exam||Ask students to write a reflection or discuss their learning process. For example, combine 1) low-stakes quizzes and a reflection as an assessment, or 2) an open-book exam and a metacognition task (below) as an assessment.|
|Research / Term Paper
Because students develop a term paper over the quarter, submitting different parts of it (e.g., the introduction and thesis, the literature review) at different times, this approach minimizes the possibility that students will be able to plagiarize work.
In a progressive build project, each portion submitted is a low-stakes assessment and is graded separately.
|Short, weekly papers||Instead of one longer paper due at the end of the quarter, assign shorter weekly papers.||Creating a Canvas Assignment for online submission of a document|
Short essay exam, untimed (1-2 paragraphs in response to each question)
If possible, convert multiple-choice questions into a series of questions that require students to write an essay. Writing an essay, in which students synthesize and/or analyze course content in answer to an essay prompt, encourages academic integrity by eliciting higher-order thinking skills.
In the short essay version, students are given a series of questions that ask them to write one-to-two-paragraph responses, synthesizing course content.
Tailoring the essay questions to your course’s specific content encourages students to produce their own work, and discourages inappropriate reliance on outside sources (i.e., plagiarism).
To make it an equitable assessment, exams should be untimed.
|Short answer exam
(1-3 sentences in response to each question)
Tailoring short-answer questions to information presented in lectures encourages students to maintain academic integrity by tying their responses to what they learned by attending your class.
To make it an equitable assessment, exams should be untimed.
Assigning students to write a short reflection on how the course has changed their thinking about the course topic or a sub-topic requires them to produce their own work and thus discourages inappropriate reliance on outside sources (i.e., plagiarism).Bonus: This approach helps students become more aware of the effect your class has had on them intellectually.
Asking students to look at their own errors on a past exam, and explain in their own words the correct answers, requires students to reflect on their work and thus discourages inappropriate reliance on outside sources (i.e., plagiarism).
Students can earn a certain number of points determined in advance by the instructor.Bonus: This approach helps students develop metacognition, improve their learning, and make connections to their past class performance.
Depending on the format of the original exam, this task could be done using Canvas or Gradescope.
|Group projects/ Collaborative work
(e.g., progressive build group project)
Because students collaborate with peers to complete a task or develop a group project during at least part of the quarter, relying on peers is planned and expected.
As with a progressive-build paper, in a progressive-build group project, each portion submitted is a low-stakes assessment and is graded separately.
Students submit different parts of it (e.g., introduction, literature review) at different times.
The Canvas Collaboration tool, which encourages the use of Google Docs, might be an option, depending on the type of project. See “What Are Collaborations?” (This can be tricky since students and faculty often have more than one Google account.)
In the event that alternative assessments were not adopted, we present below a list of strengths and limitations of different remote proctored assessment options. Please note that these strengths and limitations are based on the current characteristics of the technological tools that they use.
|Type of assessment||Strengths||Limits||How to implement|
|Remotely-proctored exam using Examity (only available for approved virtual "V" courses)||
Works with laptops or desktops equipped with movable webcams.
Examity staff observe students through a webcam and screen sharing, and sessions are recorded for review.
Students authenticate through UC Davis Canvas and must show a photo ID to take an exam.
Not compatible with Chromebooks, iPads (and similar tablets), or smartphones.
Requires a stable, high-speed internet connection.
Likely increases anxiety for students new to online learning who must quickly learn to use new technologies.
Students may object to being observed and having their likeness recorded.
Students may lack the private spaces and/or technology to carry out an uninterrupted, proctored exam.
Students with disabilities may display behaviors that appear to be suspicious such as speaking aloud, darting gaze, shifting in place, etc., which will be noted on the student’s Letter of Accommodation. These need to be entered into the Examity accommodation area.
Students with an accommodation for breaks to manage medical conditions may also cause concern for instructors. These details also need to be added to the Examity accommodation area.
Video monitoring exam using Zoom
Instructors can monitor students while taking their exams via Zoom video (webcam).
Students with an accommodation for extra time on exams may need confidential confirmation of their stop/end time before testing begins. Please check with the SDC Specialist for guidelines.
Students with an accommodation for a small group/reduced distraction testing environment or a single room can be separated out into a Zoom breakout room. Additional proctors may be necessary to monitor students. Please check with the SDC Specialist for guidelines.
Instructor can see student and/or environment while student is taking exam.
If integrated into Canvas, authentication with UC Davis credentials can be required, recording each student’s email address in Zoom.
“Focus mode,” available starting with Zoom version 5.7.3, allows the webcam feeds and shared screens of all participants to be visible only to hosts and co-hosts and not to other participants.
Requires access to webcam.
Privacy concerns in seeing student environments and students seeing each other’s video feeds. (“Focus mode,” available starting with Zoom version 5.7.3, allows the webcam feeds and shared screens of all participants to be visible only to hosts and co-hosts and not to other participants, which may mitigate this concern.)
Students may object to being observed and having their likeness recorded.
Students’ time zones may make live exams challenging.
Instructors/TAs will need protocol for suspicious behavior (webcam off, etc.).
Students who do not use UC Davis credentials may struggle to access the proctoring session, requiring support from your instructional team.
Common cheating behaviors, such as opening browser windows or laying notes next to a computer, are difficult to observe.
Students with disabilities may display behaviors that appear to be suspicious such as speaking aloud, darting gaze, shifting in place, etc. Please check with the SDC Specialist who signed a student’s Letter of Accommodation with questions or concerns.Students with an accommodation for breaks to manage medical conditions may display behaviours that appear suspicious. Please check with the SDC Specialist who signed a student’s Letter of Accommodation for guidance.
Traditional quiz or exam in Canvas using Respondus LockDown Browser + Monitor
Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom web browser that locks down the testing environment in Canvas. When students use LockDown Browser to access a quiz, they are unable to print, copy, visit other websites, access other applications, or close a quiz until it is submitted for grading.
Respondus Monitor is a video monitoring service that works in conjunction with the Respondus LockDown Browser for exams delivered via Canvas. It records student activity via webcam, serving as a deterrent to students using secondary computers, phones, calculators, textbooks, or receiving assistance from other students.
After a student has taken an exam, instructors can review the report and the video for any issues with academic integrity. Respondus Monitor is suitable for low or medium-stakes exams that require student monitoring.
Respondus can be used for synchronous or asynchronous exams delivered via Canvas. Students can schedule their exam at their convenience during the instructor-provided exam availability window.
24/7 technical troubleshooting available from Respondus is built into the application
LockDown Browser alone does not provide proctoring. We encourage using it with Respondus Monitor because Monitor records the test taking session. Using the LockDown Browser alone may limit some breaches of integrity, but students can still access other devices or material / assistance from other sources (like paper notes).
Students may object to having their likeness recorded.
Technology Requirements (see full details on Responsus website):
Students need to download the program from the UC Davis Canvas only link; the program is university-specific.
Does not currently work on phones or iPads
Requires a specific operating system (as of 27 Sept 2021):
Mac: MacOS 10.12 or higher
iOS: 11.0+ (iPad only. Must have a compatible LMS integration.)
Students need a webcam or built-in camera.
Students may not have the bandwidth needed for video recording.
Give a practice quiz first so that you and the students can become familiar with how it works.
If the class is small enough, you may want to use LockDown Browser alone and then proctor the exam yourself via Zoom. (Review these suggestions for that scenario.)
The UC Davis Psychology Department resources on exams and assessments.