Online testing – Part 1 of many

Online testing has a certain amount of both art and science behind it.

The science is kinda easy. You’re asking X questions about subject Z and the student has to complete the task. (Although writing questions is an art in and of itself, but that’s another discussion entirely!)

The art comes in designing the test parameters. How many questions, how much time, how many days…

Much of the art depends on the answer to the question: “why are you giving this assessment?”

The answer doesn’t have to be profound, but the clearer it is to you, the easier the parameters become to define — and defend to your students. Another way of saying this is: Just because you can, should you?

Yes, you must have a way to justify a grade at the end of the semester — and that’s a perfectly good reason for giving an assessment, by the way — but sometimes there are other reasons.

I’ll spend some time talking about testing, testing philosophy and whatnot over the next bit….


On to the practical question that was asked, and gets asked all the time. I have a student who has double test time, how do I manage that in Blackboard?

The really easy answer is to say: don’t time your tests. But you may have good reason to do so; therefore, you need another answer from me.

One option: don’t turn on auto-submit.

When you set up the test time (I’ll use the frequently used 1 hour here as an example) for 1 hour, do not turn on the ‘auto submit’ option. (clickee the pics to embiggen!)


You then (privately — you cannot make this a class announcement) tell the student with double test time that he/she has 2 hours to take the test and to not worry when the timer expires at the end of 1 hour.

The students who do not have double test time can take more than the 1 hour, sure. But you can put the fear of {name your favorite deity} into them by putting a note in teeny print in the syllabus that “students who take longer than the alloted time will be penalized 1 point per minute” — or some such appropriate value. (Really. A point per minute on a 10 point test doesn’t necessarily make sense but a point per minute on a 100 point test does!)

When any student takes longer than the alloted test time, the test shows up in “needs grading” and you have to manually release the grade to the student. Even for a fully grade-able multiple choice test. For your student with double test time, you simply update the grade. For your student without double test time, you get to decide whether you should apply your penalty or not.

Your students get a warning — it’s only at the top of the document so you know they ignore it, especially if you have a long-ish test.


So when you go into the “Needs Grading” and you click on the student’s name to see what ‘went wrong’ with the test, you will see the message.


Hey! I only set the test to 5 minutes so I could even get this screen shot. ::grin::

You then do the standard “Save and Exit” button and it puts the grade into the grade book. If you were going to apply any penalty to the late submission, you would do that before you Save and Exit. This late submission notice ‘sticks’ with the test, so it’s always there as evidence.

Coming soon… more thoughts and other options!


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