What guidance is available when using Blackboard tests for summative assessments taken outside class?

These are recommended guidelines for the setting up, deployment and running summative tests delivered through Blackboard which students are permitted to take outside of class or examination conditions.

Setting the test:

  • Read the Good practice guide for Blackboard question types to ensure effective and fair use of the different question types available in Blackboard.
  • Read the Designing for Effective Online Assessment guide to help you effectively design your online assessments including some practical and general guidance for writing objective test questions
  • Avoid randomisation within the test. Use Question Pools in preference as this will enable a random block of questions on the same topic, for example, to be presented together
  • Avoid lengthy instructions within the test page. Provide instructions separately in advance of the exam to aid student preparation. An editable set of instructions that you can download, customise and publish in your site in order to provide students with appropriate preparatory guidance when taking Blackboard tests outside of class is available: General instructions for Blackboard tests
  • Only use images and multimedia (e.g. audio, video) if they are relevant to the item, as students accessing the assessment from home may be disadvantaged by slow connection or lack of appropriate software to view them
  • Check that answers to any Fill in the Blank, Fill in Multiple Blank and Quiz Bowl questions allow for alternative spellings, abbreviations, common mis-spellings, synonyms, punctuation, and the inclusion or omission of units of measurement to numerical answers
  • Advise students where answers to Fill in the Blank and Fill in Multiple Blank must be spelled correctly or are case sensitive, and where answers to Calculated Numeric or Formula must be presented to a set number of decimal places or include units of measurement
  • Advise students of any corrective (negative or partial credit) scoring applied to any questions, detailing the penalty applied for selecting incorrect responses
  • Offer a practice test in advance of the exam that includes all relevant features of the actual exam, all question types to be used, and a sample of questions similar in content, style and difficulty
  • Inform students of your availability while the assessment is available. They should know how and when they can contact you in case they experience any difficulties, and when they can expect a response.
  • Similarly avoid setting the deadline for the assessment outside of office hours in case students attempt the assessment last minute and are unable to contact anyone in case of difficulty

 Deploying the test:

  • Hide any content or information from your Blackboard site that you do not wish students to have access to while they undertake the assessment
  • Ensure students can easily find the link to the assessment. You might like to post this information as an Announcement
  • Do not select the Force Completion option. Should any student experience technical difficulties during the test, they will then be able to exit the test and re-enter to complete remaining questions
  • Use the Set Timer option cautiously, as some students may be disadvantaged if accessing the assessment from home with a slow connection.
  • If you must apply a time limit, ensure that you take account of students who may have specific learning requirements. You should use the Test Availability Exceptions to accommodate those students’ particular needs.
  • Avoid applying a Password. If you wish to restrict access to the assessment until a particular time, then use the Display After option.
  • Use the Display After and Display Until options to control access to the assessment
  • If you choose to display questions One at a Time, do not Prohibit Backtracking. Students should be able to answer questions in any order and return to questions that they have previously answered prior to submission
  • Do not set any Test Results and Feedback rules. Make this information available manually once all students have taken the test and all attempts have been graded. On submission, students will see that the attempt has been completed
  • Hide the Grade Centre column for the test from student view. This will keep all scores and feedback hidden until all attempts have been graded

After the assessment:

  • You will need to manually grade any student attempts that were left ‘in progress’ or those containing Essay, Short Answer or File Response type questions. You should also check all responses to any Fill-in-the-Blank, Fill-in Multiple Blank, Calculated Numeric, Calculated Formula and Quiz Bowl  type questions for any unforeseen correct responses
  • Release feedback and make the Grade Centre column for the test available as appropriate
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