Online Testing

The CPI recommends using online quizzes in two ways:

Formative tool: The act of taking a quiz can be a great learning tool often referred to as Assessment For Learning.

Open Book: Questions that do not lend themselves to clear-cut responses are often not at risk when unintended collaboration occurs. For example, questions that ask learners to consider their own personal context will not have one correct answer.

In any case, online multiple choice quizzes should be low stakes. A common and successful strategy has been a weekly multiple choice quiz worth a small but sufficiently meaningful percentage of the overall course grade.

Best practices when testing in Sakai course sites

The following information is abbreviated from the Tests and Quizzes – Best Practices help page, and is intended to advise Brock University instructors on the use of Isaak-Sakai course sites to safely and effectively offer online assessments. Members of CPI would be pleased to offer support at any stage in the administration of an online assessment.

Offer a trial run

Ungraded “Get to know you” or practice quizzes that approximate the configuration and flow of formal assessments for the course afford students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the experience.

Prevent loss of data

  • Assign one question per online assessment page to oblige test-takers to regularly navigate between pages, thus preventing inactivity timeout during longer assessments.
  • Enable automatic submission of unsubmitted assessments.
  • Provide some time between assessment due dates and retraction dates to allow for any unforesoon technical or user complications.
  • Provide some additional time at the beginning and end of timed assessments to allow for any unforesoon technical or user complications.
  • Enable the Statistics tool prior to online assessment to track basic usage information.
  • Do not delete completed or in-progress assessments.

Offer high frequency / low stakes testing

Higher frequency assessments with lower stakes tend to be less prone to risk within the online environment than traditionally high-stakes midterm and final examination models. Instructors may thus wish to release chapter, weekly, or monthly assessments to provide for small fractions of overall course grading but equating collectively to the fraction allocated to larger assessments.

Support academic integrity

Assume that all known risks that apply to traditional take-home assessments apply to assessments done online. Consider the points below to help ensure academic integrity as online assessments are administered.

  • Assessment that calls upon participants to leverage critical thinking rather than memorization skills will provide more opportunities for unique responses.
  • Randomize question inclusion and ordering.
  • Time assessments strategically to reduce the opportunities for students to collaborate or refer to other sources of information when these behaviours are not intended.

Proctoring options

The Examinations and Timetables department within the Brock University Registrar’s office provides this information as needed.

Originality Checkers

Software such as offers originality checking or phrase-matching services to students and instructors to promote integrity and collaboration on written assignments. Instructors should communicate that they intend to use originality checking by informing students in class, in the course outline, and/or in the description of assignments. Likewise, students must be given the option of not submitting to Turnitin. Brock University requires that students be given the option to declare that they do not want to use Turnitin in advance and submit revisions or drafts of their work in advance of the due date (or other similar accommodation). As per the faculty handbook, students with a principled objection must be offered an alternative.


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Guide to Teaching with Technology Copyright © 2019 by Centre for Pedagogical Innovation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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