Alternate Testing Strategies

Ten ideas for non-proctored assessments.

  1. Create a test bank
    A test bank or in iCollege terminology, Question Library, that contains more questions than will be needed for an exam will allow for exams with randomized questions. The answers to the questions can also be randomized. Randomized questions and answers make it more difficult for students to look up information during the exams and to contact fellow classmates for “help”. One source of additional questions are your textbook publisher resources. Large test banks from publishers can be imported into iCollege to create Question Libraries.In addition to using random questions pulled from question libraries, you can also use the iCollege Quiz Tool settings to:

    • Shorten the time of the exam to what is reasonable for the average student to finish without running out of time.
    • Only allow the student to view one question at a time.
    • Restrict the student’s ability to change responses on previously answered questions.
    • Allow a student to have multiple attempts on an exam. If a student runs out of time on the first attempt, the student can be allowed to retake the exam a second time but will earn the average of their first and second attempts.
  2. Open book exams
    Consider using open book/open note exams. This type of exam encourages students to learn to apply knowledge rather than memorize material. They are usually somewhat less anxiety-provoking than regular tests. We recognize that this type of assessment is more work to grade and recommend setting it up using the iCollege Assignment Tool not the Quiz Tool. This will also allow for a rubric to be attached.When choosing the amount of time the student as to complete the open book/open note exam, the instructor can choose to give students a short period of time to submit the exam via the Assignment Tool.
  3. “Take home” exams
    The “take home” exams allow instructors to give students questions or problems which will take longer than a standard class session to answer and may require students to use a variety of references. We recognize that this type of assessment may result in students only studying the material related to the questions asked. Also, instructors won’t know if students received help in answering the questions. However, you can have a variety of equivalent questions that can be randomly assigned to students using the iCollege Quiz Tool to reduce cheating.
  4. Fact Sheets
    Have students develop a fact sheet about a topic that can be uploaded to iCollege using the Assignment Tool. Students can make the fact sheets as PowerPoint slides or graphics. This type of activity encourages students to decide what the important and relevant information should be on a particular topic. Fact sheets can function like an exam since students are required to explain their information and why it is relevant. In developing a fact sheet, students must learn to search the relevant databases or textbooks for the appropriate information, evaluate material, and present the content in a concise, readable way.
  5. Adding the option of explanation to a multiple choice test or the “Why is it Wrong” exam.
    Students sometimes feel that multiple choice questions can be interpreted in more than one way with one interpretation leading them to choose one answer while an alternative interpretation leads to another. One way to address this is to allow students to explain their answers. This type of exam requires fewer questions and is harder to cheat on. These types of assessments can also reduce student anxiety and prevent penalizing students for interpreting the question at a deeper level than was intended. While this can involve slightly more grading time students rarely include an explanation for more than one or two questions. Another version of this is students explaining why the wrong answers are wrong. Good keys make grading these types of assessments easier. Implementing this type of exam in iCollege uses the Quiz Tool and a combination of multiple choice and written response question types.
  6. Replacing exams with summaries
    Have your students write summaries of the class readings and lectures which include the main points, a critical reaction to the ideas, and a discussion of what’s most important. This requires a great deal of reading on the part of the instructor. These summaries can also be peer-reviewed. Assign different groups of students different summary assignments which can be shared with the entire class. Writing summaries often results in students learning more and retaining the information longer than studying for a traditional exam. The Assignment Tool and the Discussion Tool can facilitate the submission of summaries.
  7. Memorandum, briefing, op-ed or legislative reviews
    • Students prepare a one or two page memorandum or briefing, with, for example, the following headings: background, problem, possible solutions with pros and cons, final recommendation (and you can add as you like, for instance, final recommendation with implications, possible impact, and so on). Besides being a good exercise in synthesizing material, it’s an excellent way for students to practice being concise and direct.
    • This can be modified by turning it into an op-ed where students need to present and defend their opinion on a topic related to class material.
    • Students can write legislative policy reviews in which relevant laws and policies connected to questions explored by the class, the population students work with, and/or population of interest are examined. The students then provide a synopsis of key takeaways or prepare advocacy materials (letter to editor, develop key talking points, etc.)

    These are all “real-world” exercises and allow students to practice understanding all sides of an issue and explaining their perspective to their readers.

    These assessments can be submitted using the Assignment Tool.

  8. Create-your-own product exams.
    For this option students use the knowledge and skills learned in the course to create a product such as an app, software, or experiment.
  9. Asynchronous online student presentations.
    Have students develop PowerPoint slides or other types of presentations that reflect the knowledge and skills learned in the course. Students present their information in a 5 to 10-minute presentation and post/share in iCollege. The students can add audio to their presentations that the class can then review asynchronously. This can be accomplished by using the Kaltura Capture tool to record a presentation and then embedding the resulting video into a discussion posting.
  10. Complete online trainings relevant to field of study
    Have students practice and submit a certificate of completion related to the field of study.  See sources in LinkedinLearning.

Resources on Academic Integrity

Use this CETLOE-created video to help students understand:
What Is Academic Integrity? Is It Different Thank Academic Dishonesty?

More videos on getting ready to learn online >

Information on Best Practices for Maintaining Academic Integrity in Online Formats >

An article from Inside Higher Ed on Best Way to Stop Cheating in Online Courses? ‘Teach Better’