Testing and Assessment Best Practices

Last Updated: Aug 12, 2014 12:38PM PDT
You can provide tests and surveys in content areas, learning modules, lesson plans, or folders. You can create a new test or survey or link to an existing one. No purely online assessment system can prevent all forms of cheating. Unless you are giving the test as a proctored computer lab test, you should consider Blackboard assessments tantamount to a take-home exam. If you are not comfortable with take-home exams, you should not be using Blackboard for assessments. We recommend numerous low-stakes tests using Blackboard to provide ongoing feedback on student performance and to reduce test anxiety (and cheating). 

Below is a list of tips and recommended best practices for assessing student learning using Blackboard from Blackboard Tips WIki at http://blackboardtips.wikispaces.com/Assessments.

General Online Assessment Tips

  1. Avoid high-stakes objective assessments online
    When developing online assessments in Blackboard, it is important to consider the security of the exam and to make every effort to remove opportunities for students to cheat. Blackboard does not inherently prevent students from printing the questions of an exam or copying and pasting the questions to word processing application for printing.
  2. Have students complete a practice version of any required online assessment to become familiar with the technology
    Your students may or may not have ever completed an online assessment. Don't assume that they are familiar with how to complete an online assessment. Offer a sample or practice version of the type of assessment you plan to require to allow students the opportunity to become familiar with the technology.
  3. Deploy assessment link(s) in the same folder as unit content
    For ease of access for students, consider keeping links to assessments with other instructional content for a given unit. Basically, create a folder for each unit and include in that folder all the information items, instructions, and links to the assessments so students easily find them.
  4. Reuse and re-purpose assessment types once configured in Blackboard
    While course content changes over time, you may be able to reuse some of the types of assessments you use among courses. For example, a pre-course survey might be able to be reused in multiple Blackboard courses. Whenever possible, look to reuse created assessments by either copying and exporting/importing from one Blackboard course to another.
  5. Provide meaningful feedback to students
    Studies have shown that among the most valued elements of any course are the interactions that students have with the faculty member. Providing meaningful feedback to online assessments is a great way to foster teaching presence in an online course.
  6. Remember there is no guaranteed approach to prevent cheating online
    When developing online assessments in Blackboard, it is important to consider the security of the exam and to make every effort to remove opportunities for students to cheat. While there are a few tips to prevent cheating, the current version of Blackboard does not inherently prevent students from printing the questions of an exam or copying and pasting the questions to word processing application for printing.

Tests/Quizzes

The Tests tool in Blackboard is the tool to use for automatically graded assessments. Scores are automatically added to the Blackboard Grade Center. Faculty have several options for creating tests, including typing into the question-by-question format provided by Blackboard, copying and pasting questions into the Blackboard format (which allows one to work offline and take advantage of the word processor's spell check), and uploading questions in a pre-established format. The term "test" is used in Blackboard to refer to any graded assessment (formative or summative) consisting of more than one question.

  1. Add test questions to pools for easy reuse and expansion. 
    Creating question pools in Blackboard of questions provides added options for question reuse as well as the ability to export questions for reuse or repurpose in other courses.
  2. Check with your textbook publisher to see if they offer question pools for your textbook
    Some publishers now offer electronic pools of questions organized by textbook chapter that are pre-formatted for Blackboard.
  3. Create tests from random blocks of question pools whenever possible
    To further deter cheating, create online tests that pull questions at random from question pools. This not only further individualizes each student's assessment, but also makes it very easy to expand the possible questions included in future assessments. Faculty can simply add more questions to the question pools to in effect expand the possible questions to be included in the test(s) built from them.
  4. Pay attention to test options when deploying
    Creating a test in Blackboard is essentially a 2-step process: 1) Build the test; 2) Deploy the test. After deploying the test, be sure to modify the test options to match the desired assessment experience. (e.g. timed test; 1 attempt, customized feedback)
  5. Randomize questions and answer choices within questions
    Among the many test options, choosing to randomize the questions/answers will ensure that each student will be presented with the quiz questions in a random order.
Surveys

A survey within Blackboard is a non-graded assessment tool that records answers anonymously. Blackboard will record when the survey is taken but will not associate answers with an individual user; no individual feedback can be provided for a survey.

Use the Survey tool in Blackboard whenever you want to gather aggregate responses from students. The survey tool is a simple way to gather feedback from students at the beginning, middle, or end of the course. Also, if introducing a new pedagogical approach or tool, consider conducting a survey of students to gain their perspective on overall effectiveness. 

Remind students that surveys are anonymous. Surveys can be especially useful to gain authentic feedback from students, especially if they are reassured that their feedback is anonymous. Remind students that you can't see their individual responses, just a confirmation of whether or not they completed the survey.

If survey is more than 5 questions, consider displaying 1 question at a time. For large surveys, they can be more manageable for students if displayed 1 question at a time rather than all at once. 

If desiring to share findings with students, copy/paste results into Word to post in Blackboard. While there currently is no easy way to automatically display aggregate results from a survey to students, the results that you see as an instructor can be copied/pasted into a Word document and then posted in Blackboard for students to view if desired.