Testing & Assessment Resources

Online/Remote Testing and Exam Resources

Online/remote testing and exams are essential elements of all SMU upcoming Fall 2020 courses—across all modalities of instruction. Testing and exams will be impacted significantly by the SMU HyFlex and online/remote approaches SMU is forced to take during these unique COVID-19-impacted circumstances. As you plan for your online/remote testing and exams, the following best practices and answers to frequently asked questions relating to online assessment and also academic integrity may be helpful. You can also reach out on the Center for Teaching Excellence or to your school’s Academic Technology Service Director (ATSD) for consultation or personalized design help toward planning your online/remote assessments.

Getting Started

During the Fall 2020 semester, most tests and examinations are expected to be delivered to students digitally—regardless of course modality. Given the stressful nature of this situation, we strongly encourage all faculty to plan assessments well in advance of scheduled delivery. We want to ensure that online/remote assessment continues to be rigorous and meaningful throughout our courses. You might start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Think about your learning goals and objectives for your course. How can students demonstrate what they learned through your course?
  • Are there questions you can ask students that are conceptual, applied, or otherwise require higher-order thinking that would allow your online/remote assessments to be open-book?
  • Can students demonstrate understanding in a less traditional format such as a presentation, portfolio, or project? This excellent resource (linked with permission) on Rutgers' page on Remote Exams and Assessments provides "10 Alternatives to Exams."
  • Can you reduce the number of lower-level multiple-choice questions in favor of having students show their thinking and problem-solving skills, even if this reduces the number of questions? Could questions be written so students need to show a practical application of what they've learned?

Regardless of the method you choose, here are some helpful considerations as you engage in this process.

  • Make your instructions and expectations clear to students by including your testing expectations in your syllabus.  Can they use notes or other outside materials? Can they collaborate? Is the exam timed? Communication is particularly important in an online/remote environment.
  • For many alternative forms of assessment, rubrics are essential. They allow your students to see what you're looking for, and make grading consistent and fair.
  • If possible, allow students an opportunity to engage in your desired forms of assessment prior to the most important and final exams, so this isn't the first time they're being asked to engage in a new assessment activity. Even if these practice opportunities are ungraded, giving them the opportunity to practice and get feedback (from you, your TAs, or their peers) can help them be successful, particularly if prior assessments in your course were in different formats.
  • Students will be navigating unusual new schedules and conflicting priorities now. If possible, open the assessment for multiple days, allowing them flexible options as possible.