Online assessments

Most of my experience with computer-based assessment tools has been with the quizzes and exams that are part of the Blackboard course management system used by the City Colleges of Chicago. Blackboard provides a great deal of flexibility by offering more than a dozen question types, including multiple choice, true-false, multiple answer, either-or, fill in the blanks, jumbled sentence, and essays.

Existing tests are easily modified by adding, deleting or revising questions, and new tests are easy to create. An exam can be started from scratch, or an existing battery of questions or tests can be imported, such as from a textbook publisher’s web site or an instructor’s own computer files. A large set of questions can be used randomly so that the questions are never the same twice.

For proctored exams that are required to be taken in a campus testing center, a security password can be generated to ensure that the exam can only be accessed when and where a proctor is present.

Students can be limited to taking an assessment just once, a specified number of times, or an unlimited number of times. Time limits can be set on how long a student is allowed to work on a test once he or she has started, and a scheduled range of time can be specified as to when the assessment will be available online to students. Feedback can be included to provide specific responses for each possible answer to a question.

Most of the question types are scored automatically, and total points are listed in the Blackboard gradebook. Unscored answers, such as from an essay or fill in the blanks question, are marked with an exclamation point in the gradebook, indicating that the instructor must manually enter the points earned after viewing the student’s answer.

In my Social Science 101WW class, I conduct three live synchronous sessions using Elluminate Live! each semester. During part of each session, I help the students prepare for their proctored exams by going over key concepts and reviewing the answers to some of the online study quizzes.

Another online assessment tool that I have less experience with is Hot Potatoes. I was introduced to this free web-based tool through the Student Assessment in Online Courses class I took last year. Hot Potatoes also offers flexibility in creating assessments, with several question types, including crossword puzzles, which are not available on Blackboard. For more information about Hot Potatoes, see this tutorial, which includes experiencing the Hot Potatoes format: file:///C:/Program%20Files/HotPotatoes6/tutorial/tutorial.htm

The Hot Potatoes home page is at: http://hotpot.uvic.ca/

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