Assessment and Remote Teaching: Options and Opportunities

Setting Priorities

The remote-teaching period is an opportunity to evaluate how to meet your learning objectives for your class. While we think of our syllabi as contracts with our students, it is possible to make adjustments – keep communication with your students transparent and clear as you make these changes.

So, look ahead for the next few weeks and reflect on your assessment tasks: where can they be adjusted, if necessary? What would that adjustment look like? Let’s look at a few options and opportunities to help you decide on how to manage your assessment tasks during this period of remote teaching.

Option: Timing of assessment

Given that we do not know how long the remote-teaching period will last, you may choose to defer assessment tasks, especially exams or tests, until the situation is clearer. However, if the remote-teaching period continues beyond 2 weeks, this option is less viable – have a back-up plan!

Opportunity: Test the content in a different way

The remote-teaching period offers faculty the opportunity to think about their assessment tasks in a different way. So, instead of in-class exams, for example, here are some other ideas for students to demonstrate their knowledge of content:

  • a written assignment with short-answer questions submitted via Blackboard or email
  • several small quizzes to replace a larger exam
  • student presentations through PPT (with voiceover), podcast, or video
  • electronic portfolio with discussion of key topics (using Digication or Adobe Spark)
  • digital poster on key topics
  • consider using Turnitin or a plagiarism checker for written assignments and PPTs

Option: Offer exam mode with minor rather than major changes

If you prefer to keep the exam mode but would like to adapt it to the online environment, one way is to convert it from an in-class exam to a take-home exam:

  • Take-home exam with possibilities for short-answer and more developed analytical questions (asynchronous: that is, you can set it for a different time to your regular class time – more like a homework assignment)
  • These can be submitted online (through Blackboard) or via email

Option: When the traditional exam is the preferred mode

If you do not want to make changes to your exam mode, you can still create this assessment task through Blackboard

  • If this is new mode of delivery for your class, offer practice exams/quizzes so students can test their technology/access as well as get used to timed-tests in the online environment
  • You can offer multiple-choice (automatically graded through Blackboard), short-answer, or essay questions, depending on your preferred mode

Maintaining integrity in an online exam

Maintaining academic integrity in an online environment is challenging! Blackboard has some ability to create secure exam conditions (consult with EdTech for further information at askedtech@bu.edu.), but you can also try some of these options to encourage academic integrity:

  • Ask students to submit a signed Academic Conduct statement; this can be developed ahead of time or students can be asked to visit the Academic Conduct Code site to develop their own statement
  • For multiple-choice exams, have a large question bank so that specific questions can be randomized
  • Randomize order of questions within tests/exams and have only one question per page; this cuts down on students’ ability to share answers
  • Use Turnitin or plagiarism checker for longer exam questions

Accessibility Issues

  • Check with Disability Services on specific accommodations, but bear in mind typical options such as extended time for exams
  • Consider, too, laptop, software and Wifi access for your students, and be willing to be flexible if students will find it difficult to take an online, timed test at a specific time – consider if there are other ways you can ask them to demonstrate their knowledge of the material.

We will be updating this information as needed. If you have feedback or additional questions, please contact ctl@bu.edu.