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Grade Smarter

Remote Assessment Alternatives for High-Stakes Exams

With COVID-19, instructors scrambled for remote assessment alternatives and delivery options for midterms and finals. Before we jump into the options, let’s review why we give exams in the first place. The purpose of an assessment is for students to show subject mastery. In addition to assessing knowledge, onsite exams administered by faculty and teaching assistants provide some test security (e.g., multiple-choice exams). The challenge is how to achieve the desired results (i.e., assessing mastery) while considering academic integrity concerns when testing at home.

Remote assessment alternatives

The chances are that educators will need to reimagine high-stakes exams for remote administration. If the coronavirus forces remote instruction in Fall, here are some tips on how to evaluate learning in an online take-home exam environment.

  • With students isolated from peers, consider replacing an exam with a collaborative group project.
  • Written assignments work well in remote assessments.
  • Administrator frequent, low-stakes quizzes. The quizzes reduce the need for a summative test at the end of the semester.
  • Consider using other methods to demonstrate knowledge, such as personal reflection, infographics, or videos.
  • If you provide a high-stakes exam online:
    • Include an academic integrity or honor code statement at the beginning of your exam to remind students about cheating
    • Decrease the weight of the exam
    • Make it an open-book exam that’s rigorous but with a time limit.
    • Allow the remote assessment at one set time.
    • Don’t ask questions easily answered from an internet search.
    • Use online proctoring solutions, such as Proctorio

Moving to a high-stakes exam with proctoring can increase test anxiety, try to schedule low-stakes quizzes before scheduling a summative test. This will allow students to ensure their computer is correctly set up and the internet is sufficient for the test. Setting up a practice exam will also let students build familiarity with the exam process before test day.

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