Assessment

Alternate Exam Formats

The advice in this page applies only where an exam type assessment is still required for a course. Where possible, faculty could consider alternate types of assessment that meet the required learning outcomes of the exam, aligned with the current advice from York University Senate.

The term virtual exams will be used in this page. Online exams require specialized software that includes sophisticated remote proctoring and identification capabilities that is not available at this time.

Considerations for Virtual Exams

Open Book – Virtual exams are a type of open book exam. It allows instructors to devise questions that require students to answer in more critical and analytical ways thus encouraging high-order thinking skills, rather than encouraging rote learning and more superficial application of knowledge. Students are able to access course materials while undertaking the exam. For useful guides on writing open book exams and questions, look at the following resources:

Student preparedness – Students will need support in how to conduct a virtual exam. If it is an open-book they may think that is easier and fail to properly prepare.

Synchronicity – Consider if you want to run a synchronous virtual exam (where everyone is taking the exam at the same set time) or an asynchronous virtual exam (where there is a time window in which the exam could be taken, similar to a take home exam). Note: the original ‘in person’ exam schedule remains posted and we recommend instructors use those times for virtual exams.

Timing – If you are running a synchronous virtual exam, you should generally allow more time than a regular face to face exam, to deal with any technology issues that may arise, as well as recognizing that students are having to manage in an unfamiliar format. Generally it is advised to add an extra 1 hour to a 2 or 3 hour exam.

Plagiarism – Often one of the two most cited reasons for running a face to face exam is the issue of academic misconduct and stopping plagiarism. While this cannot be eliminated entirely in virtual exams, there are different ways of either reducing possible plagiarism or checking for plagiarized work in the following suggested approaches in this guide.

Identity of students – The other cited reason for running a face to face exam is that you know who is actually taking the exam. Again, while this cannot be completely removed from virtual exams, one of the main tactics that can be used to address this is to conduct all access and submission of exam questions through the course Moodle site, where a student has to be logged in themselves. Approaches such as emailing or using third party applications are not as robust.

Communicate often – By communicating clearly, empathetically and often about what you are planning with your virtual exam, you will better support your students undertaking exams in unfamiliar ways. Be sure to also communicate your expectations, especially around issues of academic integrity.

Isolation – Consider the complications and challenges students are experiencing while in self-isolation.

Virtual Exam Approaches Available

The 3 approaches provided below, along with the variations in each, are suggestions for running a virtual exam in your course. They all differ in the time they take to set up for faculty, the technical expertise required to use Moodle, and the student experience.

  1. Asynchronous virtual exam (take home exam)
  2. Synchronous virtual exam (time limited)
    1. With one whole paper
    2. With different questions for different sub-groups of students
    3. With questions on a timed release
  3. Moodle quiz
    1. With randomized multiple-choice questions
    2. With the required submission of photos of student working

Approaches in Detail - 1. Asynchronous Virtual Exam

What it is: An open-book exam paper that students can complete in their own time usually over a number of days.

What types of questions are suitable: Real-world and open ended problems, that require higher-order thinking skills.

Use this approach if you were going to use: Final exam focused on real world problem-solving

Creation of exam: Write the exam in a word/pdf format

Distribution to students: Distribute through a Moodle assessment, available at a specific date and time

Collection from students: Submission through Moodle at a specific date and time. Submission could be photos of the student’s working or a word document.

Approaches in Detail - 2a. Synchronous Virtual Exam with 1 paper

What it is: An open-book exam paper that is released to all students at the same time, that they must complete within a set period of time.

What types of questions are suitable: Scoped problems and in some cases procedural questions.

Use this approach if you were going to use: Final exam focused on solving scoped problems

Creation of exam: Write the exam in a word/pdf format

Distribution to students: Distribute through a Moodle assessment, available at a specific date and time

Collection from students: Submission through Moodle at a specific date and time. Submission could be photos of the student’s working or a word document.

Approaches in Detail - 2b. Synchronous Virtual Exam with sub-group papers

What it is: Same as 1 paper, but where there are either different questions or different numbers in questions for sub-groups of students

What types of questions are suitable: Scoped problems and in some cases procedural questions. Can ask questions where there is a right answer to be found

Use this approach if you were going to use: Final exam focused on solving scoped problems

Creation of exam: Write 2 – 3 different ‘sets’ of exams in a word/pdf format

Distribution to students: Distribute through a Moodle assessment to set up sub-groups, available at a specific date and time

Collection from students: Submission through Moodle at a specific date and time. Submission could be photos of the student’s working or a word document.

Approaches in Detail - 2c. Synchronous Virtual Exam with time released questions

What it is: An open-book exam paper where one question is released at a time for students to complete before moving onto the next.

What types of questions are suitable: Scoped problems where there are right answers to be found.

Use this approach if you were going to use: Final exam focused on basic calculations and information recall, and solving scoped problems

Creation of exam: Write the exam in a word/pdf format, separating out each question for separate release

Distribution to students: Distribute through a Moodle assessment, with different questions available at different times on a specific date

Collection from students: Submission through Moodle at a specific date and time, with each question submitted separately. Submission could be photos of the student’s working or a word document.

Approaches in Detail - 3a. Moodle Quiz with randomized Multiple-Choice Questions

What it is: A multiple-choice quiz set up through the Moodle quiz function. Questions appear in a random order for students.

What types of questions are suitable: Knowledge and information recall. Basic calculations, or simple solutions to problems.

Use this approach if you were going to use: Final exam focused on basic information recall and calculating simple problems.

Creation of exam: Create the exam in Moodle quiz using multiple-choice or calculated simple, or calculated multiple choice questions. Randomize question order and answer order in questions.

Distribution to students: Distribute through a Moodle quiz, available at a specific date and time

Collection from students: Submission through the Moodle quiz.

Approaches in Detail - 3a. Moodle Quiz with Photos of Student Working

What it is: A standard open-book exam where questions are delivered through a Moodle quiz and students upload photos of their working to problems.

What types of questions are suitable: Problems that are longer or more complex, where procedural approaches are being tested.

Use this approach if you were going to use: Final exam focused on procedural approaches.

Creation of exam: Create the exam in Moodle quiz using the Essay type, that allows the uploading of files (pictures of student working)

Distribution to students: Distribute through a Moodle quiz, available at a specific date and time

Collection from students: Submission through the Moodle quiz through uploading photos.

What is not available

At this stage the university is not able to support:

  • normal face-to-face end of semester exams
  • online, close-book, proctored exams

This is due to the large number of universities seeking this service from a limited number of providers.

Additional Resources

General Moodle guide: https://lthelp.yorku.ca/moodle

Creating quizzes in Moodle – https://lthelp.yorku.ca/quizzing