With many classes in the midst of midterms it’s worth reposting an old article on reducing problems during testing in Blackboard.
What can you do to reduce the problems your students can experience taking Blackboard tests? Lots, both from an instructor perspective and from a student perspective.
- Provide students with the opportunity to practice and get familiar with the Blackboard test system or to get comfortable with their knowledge of the content.
- Have a practice test for checking settings that is set to unlimited attempts and no credit allows students to check their browsers before starting a test.
- Create practice tests to reduce testing anxiety before an in class exam. Blackboard has a test option to allow practice tests that don’t show the results in the Grade Center. Students can take a practice test without fear that an instructor “will see their poor results.” Setting the practice test for unlimited attempts allows the students to take the test multiple times to gain confidence and identify content areas requiring additional review.
- When using Blackboard tests for credit, do not set the test options to be too restrictive. Rather that preventing cheating, this option can create an opportunity for gaining extra time. Do not use forced completion or auto-submit. Both options will cause headaches for you and your students! The forced completion option gives students a single attempt that they must complete in a single session. If anything happens to interrupt a test session (a browser freezing), the student can’t complete the test. The only option is for the instructor to clear the attempt, deleting any saved answers and having the student start again. Instead set a reasonable time limit. The clock starts as soon as the student opens the test and continues to run even if the student navigates away from the test. If a student has a problem, they can re-enter and resume where they left off. If you require students to notify you of any problems, you can take that into account if they go over the time limit by a small amount.
- Don’t get tripped up by the time of day. Blackboard considers midnight as the start of the day. When setting the start and end times for a test and you want the time to be midnight – select either 11:59 PM or 12:01 AM to be sure the exam starts or ends when you think it should. Using times on either side of midnight means you don’t have to remember how Blackboard defines it.
- Use pools to generate random blocks of questions to create unique tests for each student to reduce the chance of cheating.
If your instructor provides a practice tests, take it before each scheduled test to make sure your browser settings will allow you to access and complete tests in Blackboard. Browser updates and plugins can affect the performance of the testing system. Since browsers are updated regularly and users add plugins to gain functions something in your set-up may have changed between tests.
See the StudentTestBestPractice Handout for a checklist.