Teaching Strategies

Remote Assessment FAQs

What options are available for administering exams remotely?

  • You might find that the shift from classrooms to remote teaching encourages you to find new ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge. See the resource on Assessing Learning for a number of possibilities, including final learning assessments, take home exams, and administering multiple lower stakes assessments rather than a single high stakes exam.  
  • If giving a high stakes, proctored exam is essential, you can develop one in the Canvas Quiz tool and administer it using the online proctoring system Proctorio, also available through Canvas. See the resources on High Stakes Testing, and watch for virtual drop-in sessions to review both the Quiz tool and Proctorio. Please keep in mind that developing Canvas Quizzes requires entering questions directly rather than uploading a preformatted Word doc.
  • Proctorio requires students to use a laptop with webcam, and the Chrome browser with the Proctorio extension added. Students relying on VPN can use it to download Chrome and add the extension, then turn off VPN and access the Quiz through Canvas as normal.  If any of your students need VPN to access Canvas, it is best to work with an alternative (see back-up plans below).

What can I do to ensure academic integrity?

  • In addition to using Proctorio, Canvas Quizzes include features such as randomizing answers in multiple choice questions, drawing questions from question banks so each student is given a different variation on the exam, and setting a time limit so open book exams require a student to know the content thoroughly to complete it successfully. 
  • Consider having students agree to an academic integrity statement before taking a Quiz.  

How can I respond to requests for accommodations?

  • As in other semesters, if any of your students have accommodation needs you will receive notices from Disabilities Services or the Connors Family Learning Center. Here are steps that can be taken to meet common requests, and which are worth considering generally as they can benefit anyone working in an unfamiliar or stressful situation: 
    • If students need extra time, consider allowing that same amount of time to the entire class.  If limiting this just to the student requesting it is important, Quizzes can be moderated to allow extra time for individual students.
    • To accommodate different zones and unpredictable circumstances, allow a longer timeframe (e.g. 24 hours) within which to take timed exam (e.g. one hour). 
    • For students without laptops, some instructors are having them open a Zoom room to allow remote proctoring via their phones or tablets while taking an exam in a Word doc.  

My students are anxious – what can I do to offer them reassurance?

  • Some students and instructors find that the use of Proctorio comes with a learning curve. Give a test Quiz before an actual exam, to make sure everyone is technology ready and the process is familiar. The same is true for any time sensitive process; even if you are not using Proctorio, administer a test Quiz before an exam if students have not used Quizzes before.
  • Use of Proctorio sometimes raises questions about support and privacy; share the information for students addressing these concerns and require them to review it.
  • Have a back-up plan, such as emailing a Word doc attachment students can complete and return, or a protocol to follow to administer an oral exam over Zoom.  It is also possible to import a Quiz from the same Canvas site, so you have a copy which you can administer without Proctorio just to the students who need it, relying as much as possible on Quiz features intended that support academic integrity.

Can I proctor an exam using Zoom?

Generally, the CTE recommends finding alternatives to proctored, high-stakes exams whenever possible. Our page on assessing learning during emergency remote instruction introduces some recommendations for alternative forms of assessment. 

For those faculty who feel that some proctoring is necessary — but who find Proctorio overly invasive or complicated — the idea of proctoring an exam over Zoom can be attractive. However, we discourage the use of Zoom for this purpose. As a proctoring tool, Zoom provides less flexibility to students in distant time zones and can slow down processing times on older computers or for those with less stable internet. This drain on a user’s bandwidth can result in some students ending up with significantly less time to take the exam than their peers while they wait for questions to load or deal with a glitchy interface. And if all students are asked to take the exam at one time during a single Zoom call, students in other time zones may also be placed at a disadvantage.

There are low-tech options that can encourage academic integrity, like having students sign an honor pledge on the first page of the exam, or using Canvas Quiz features such as timed testing and question banks to randomize questions. If robust proctoring will be necessary, Proctorio, a proctoring program that integrates with the Canvas tool, is typically the best solution. Proctorio provides a wide variety of options – some more invasive than others – for limiting the possibility of academic dishonesty. Because Proctorio integrates neatly with the Canvas tool it is less taxing on computer bandwidth, especially if you choose to use some of the milder settings, and it cooperates with Canvas’s tools to provide more flexibility to individual students (giving students more time to complete an assignment, or a different time window if they are in another time zone). The CTE is offering Zoom drop-in sessions on Proctorio and the Canvas Quiz tool. You can find the schedule on our COVID-19 Preparations website

However, Proctorio is not always an easy answer either. Proctorio itself has specific technological requirements that some of your students may not have access to. In cases where students are not able to access Proctorio, it may be appropriate to offer an individualized Zoom proctoring session instead, asking students to use their phone or tablet for a Zoom call while they take a paper copy of the test. If you are struggling to identify a system that works for you and your students please email centerforteaching@bc.edu to connect with a staff member.