Teaching Essentials

Creating Successful Remote Testing Environments

Academic integrity can be encouraged when LEARN restrictions (see examples below) are applied thoughtfully in remote testing environments. Unreasonable restrictions in an online test or exam may become an accessibility barrier causing frustration for students and potentially resulting in academic misconduct.

Creating Tests and Exams

  • Write questions that are not easily answered by an online search.
  • Minimize fact-type questions; instead create questions applied to a scenario or integrate multiple concepts.
  • Create open book, online tests and exams targeted to specific instructor-provided course resources and lectures.
  • Vary the testing techniques: balancing multiple-choice, matching, short and long answer type questions.
  • Prepare different tests and exams for different sections of the course or term.
  • Keep online tests low-stakes (shorter tests worth fewer marks).
  • Alter the grading scheme to provide a less stressful online final exam experience.
  • Consider breaking up a large exam into multiple smaller exams.
  • Ensure reasonable time frames and access to the test for the number of questions.
  • Consider allowing tools and resources that would be used in a workplace environment.
  • Allow students to answer authentic questions using authentic tools and resources.

RRC Polytech’s Flexible Online Delivery Model outlines how to develop and deliver RRC Polytech programs and courses in an online context. For additional support, request a teaching and learning consultation.

Applying Navigation Restrictions

Allowing students to move back and forth between questions encourages effective test taking strategies. Preventing backwards movement to enhance academic integrity may induce additional exam stress. If possible, students should be allowed to go back and double-check their work or skip a question they are unsure of and return to it later.

If you are preventing backward movement, you should provide:

  • very clear instructions both before the test and on the first page
  • an estimated amount of time to spend on each question  
  • an overview of the number and type of question formats included in the test  

These methods lessen students’ worry about choosing the wrong answer and likelihood of contacting other test takers to ask for answers during the test.

Setting Time Frames

Students need a reasonable amount of time to complete a test on their own. Unreasonable timeframes may increase cognitive and psychological load on students.

Guidelines for setting testing timeframes:

  • Allow 1-2 minutes per question minimum for multiple-choice and true/false questions.
  • Add time for long/complex questions that require retrieving knowledge about multiple concepts or critical and analytic thinking.
  • Add additional time for long-answer questions that require students to write and review their answers.
  • Time yourself reading the longest question twice including all the answer options and then double or triple the time.
  • Remember that you have “expert thinking” in the subject matter, while your students have “novice thinking” or “developing thinking” in the subject matter, so a bit of extra time is warranted.
  • Remember some students may have difficulties reading and writing under pressure, especially if English is an additional language.

This section has been adapted from: Making the Transition to Online Exams. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo

Shuffling Questions

Use LEARN settings to shuffle assessment questions and create question pools.

When you check the shuffle questions box in LEARN, each student receives the whole set of quiz questions, presented in a different order. Use question pools to create banks of questions and have them shuffled within a section so that each student gets a randomized group of questions (e.g., 50 questions from a bank of 75 questions).

LEARN Quiz Tool Resources

Another option: Contact LEARN Support to review quiz settings before making tests available.