15 Community Tips: Assessment

We asked members of the University of Guelph College of Biological Science (CBS) to share with us their tips for remote assessment so we might all learn from their experience:

Online Assessment

During Remote Teaching, many classes will be utilizing online assessments in place of a traditional final exam, quiz, or other type of assessment. When developing an online assessment, several logistical items need to be considered. How long will the assessment be open for students to complete? What happens if there is a loss of internet connectivity; either the student’s connection, or a server associated with Courselink? How do you maintain academic integrity?

We provide some direction below, please email us with any other items or advice that could be included in our list (cbscoesp@uoguelph.ca).

Quiz Instructions: 

Additional instructions may be required for an online environment beyond a traditional in-person assessment. For example, description of the number of attempts and how long the quiz will be open.


This quiz consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. You will only have one attempt at the quiz. This quiz will be available from (April X [time] – April Y [time], 2020). Once you start the quiz you have 90 minutes to complete it. You can use a calculator and a scrap piece of paper to complete the exam. Good luck!

How much time to allow for the assessment? 

There are two things to consider: 1) How long the assessment will be available, and 2) How long students have to complete the assessment once they begin.

  1. Have the quiz open for several days. Many students are doing so many new things now that they are home or elsewhere, some are in different time zones, some don’t have internet at home, some are caring for children or other family, some are working extra long hours at grocery stores or other essential workplaces.
  2. As for how long to allow students once they begin the assessment, that depends on the number of questions, difficulty of questions, whether it’s open-book, whether it’s recognition or recall, etc.

What time should you make the assessment due? 

As for deadline times, there are various schools of thought. Given that students likely work right up until a deadline, there is the thought that making the quiz due at 4:30 pm helps students not stress until midnight. However, metrics also show that teens (first and second year) are not as good first thing in the morning, and that they are consistently working during the evening into the early morning. While this may sound wrong, we too were teenagers and perhaps tended to work these same hours, so perhaps consider leaving deadlines open until 11:59 pm on a given day. If you open the quiz early in the morning and close late at night, it captures all of the preferences.

Another factor is your support as an instructor. OpenEd is available 8:30 am – 8:30 pm. So if your quiz goes until midnight and students are waiting until the last minute to write it, then the instructor has no one to support them. For that reason, instructors might consider bracketing the time from 8:30 am to start the quiz and (8:30 pm – how long the quiz is) for the stop time on the NEXT day so that students who are night owls can still do the quiz when OpenEd is closed, but they will get support the next morning.

What if internet connection is lost? 

Provide students with the following information:

Don’t panic!

Your quiz questions are saved as you enter or change your response automatically.

If you lose connection to the internet, you will be notified. You can continue working on your quiz during this time, and when you are re-connected you will be notified, and your quiz questions will be re-saved.

If your internet connection is not re-established, your changes will NOT be saved.

Logon on again when you can. With an open quiz format that allows students up to several days to complete, you avoid most tech-related problems.

Remind students to plan to begin the quiz as soon as possible so that technical difficulties don’t prevent them from meeting the deadline.

If all else fails, the instructor can give special access to individuals with special requirements.  This is not optimal in large classes.

For large classes, a representative from OpenEd suggests:

Send them to courselink@uoguelph.ca (519-824-4120 ext. 56939 or 1-866-275-1478) first so that we can try to get them back up and running quickly. If the connection is totally broken, we will direct them to discuss options with the instructor.

Academic integrity: 

Provide students with a statement regarding academic integrity. The principle is to explicitly state and remind students of the expectations for behaviour for the quiz. Online assessments may also be new to our students, and different classes may have different rules, so make sure your students are aware of the rules for your class.


By starting this quiz, I promise that:

  1. All answers are my own.
  2. I will not communicate with anyone else during the quiz.
  3. I will not consult outside resources or look up answers during the quiz.
  4. I will not share responses or questions with anyone during or after the quiz.

If it is not explicitly stated that an online quiz is open book or not open book, students will be unsure. They need explicit direction.

Universal Design: 

Consider providing twice as much time for the quiz, this can assist students with SAS considerations (ie. if 3 hours for a 1.5 hour assessment). Give each student several days in which to initiate the quiz. Also, consider a variety of question types, multiple choice, true/false, Fill in the Blank, etc.

Lockdown browsers (Respondus): 

While lockdown browsers seem to provide reassurance of academic integrity, for example preventing students from accessing other websites while completing the quiz and not allowing students to complete the quiz together (i.e. multiple people in the room); perils do exist.

Accessibility is an issue given the requirement of technology including computers with cameras (up to 30% of students do not have access to a computer with a camera). Moreover, some students are currently in remote locations without high-speed internet (up to 15% of students) that are not able to handle video streaming / recording.

Additionally, students may not perform at their optimal level during the assessment, as they are being watched and recorded, and the software can accuse them of dishonesty every time they look away from the screen. Use of this software is also not adaptable for students with some SAS accommodations.

Lockdown browsers such as Respondus are useful in specific circumstances and are available through Courselink. It will be important to balance the need for the functions of lockdown browsers and Respondus Monitor with the access and stress limits of our students.  Being open and honest with our students and seeking their input in the process helps reduce anxiety.



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COESP Remote Teaching Handbook Copyright © 2020 by The College of Biological Science Office of Educational Scholarship and Practice is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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