Online exams #

  • Basically, you have two options: timed online exam or take-home exam
    • In a timed online exam, the exam is scheduled to start and end at a particular time. Students go online and answer the questions directly online. Often this is done through the quiz function in Quercus.
    • In a take-home exam, students have a window of time to complete the questions that is longer than they would normally take to answer it–e.g. 24 hours or 48 hours. Question or questions are posted at the beginning of the exam period, and students submit answers by the end of the period.
  • Remote proctoring may be available depending on availability.

What technologies and/or resources are available to help create my online final exam? #

  • The University is encouraging all faculty to use Quercus if they are moving forward with developing an online final exam.
  • For writing formulas, Quercus has LaTex built in, which both instructors and students can use for questions and answers. (See LaTex help guide (more information).

Should I make my final exam a timed online exam or a take-home exam? #

  • You need to look at the context of class (e.g. size, level of course, student needs, etc.). Consider what makes the most sense for your situation. (See Checklist) by Cornell on various contextual decisions).
  • Take-home exams allow more flexibility and accessibility than timed online exams.
  • Timed online exams can work. They are extremely useful for large courses, or where context allows for all students to be online at a given time. Timed exams also allow for assessing a wide variety of cognitive learning in a short amount of time.
  • The Society for Teaching in Higher Education is encouraging instructors to move away from timed online final exams for a variety of reasons, including these:
    • Students may not have access to stable internet connections.
    • Students may not have consistent or full-time access to a computer (they may be sharing computers or relying on access through a computer lab), or even to a quiet place to take the exam.
    • Students are in different time zones as many have returned home across Canada or to various international locations.
    • Many students have not taken a timed exam or online assessment before and have no prior practice or experience with this mode of assessment delivery.

Do I need to change my final exam? Can’t I just upload the questions onto Quercus? #

  • Online exams, where a student is writing on their own computer and not in an exam room, are by nature different than face-to-face exams, so it will be a different experience for students even if the type of questions on the exam are the same as last year’s. At the very least, given that there is no proctoring, all exams are essentially open-book. In other words, there is no “same.”
  • Best practice is, if possible, to move to either take-home exam, or alternative, comparable assessment. For additional support, see McGill’s 5 principles for making decisions around assessments in challenging times

How long should I give my students to write the final exam? #

  • Decision left to instructor. For a timed online exam, you can keep the time-limit the same as you would for a F2F exam, or extend it slightly.
  • When making this decision, consider possible technological limitations of students. (e.g. some may have limited access to a computer, internet etc.).
  • For a take-home exam, consider time to plan, draft and revise short-answer or essay questions.
  • Review individual student accommodations for additional time.

What types of questions are best suited for timed online exams through Quercus? #

  • Remember that even timed online exams are now open-book, so create questions that go beyond recall and engage students in demonstrating higher-order cognitive skills (see Bloom’s Taxonomy).
  • Before creating new material, consider if you have any content you can reuse (e.g. past exams/exercises etc.).
  • Create a large databank of questions to randomize questions. See how to create question banks and question groups in Quercus (to allow for question randomization).

How do I address academic integrity concerns with an online final exam? #

  • Create a large databank (or make use of your textbook publisher’s question bank). See how to create question banks and question groups in Quercus (to allow for question randomization).
  • Remote proctoring may be available.

How do I best support students during this transition and change? #

  • Talk to students about format, expectations, and how to prepare for the exam. Allow students to respond to mock questions in groups in discussion boards, for example.
  • Create a forum/chat to collect student questions; consider creating a mock exam template that has recommended word count or lengths; expectations could be written: how many examples, etc.
  • Here are some great resources:

What are some resources to support me and other faculty during this time? #

  • Keep everything as simple as possible.
  • If you have further questions about these options and how they best support your course please contact to talk through options, or for technical support and 1:1 online consults.