Online Exam Recommendations and Best Practices

Educational Technology supports many courses in conducting online exams through CourseWork (including final exams, quizzes, midterms, and so forth), and offers consultations to help your course plan its online exam using our hardware and spaces.

These are our Dos and Don'ts for conducting a successful online assignment.

For Students

  • Do use Firefox as the web browser for browsing CourseWork, with Safari and Chrome as second options. Internet Explorer is not recommended.
  • Do save your answers every 5-10 minutes using the "Save" button at the bottom of the page while taking the assignment. If the power or network goes out, or if the computer crashes, your answers will still be saved on the CourseWork servers and you can resume the exam from where you left off. For assignments that have one question per page (or multiple parts), the Next and Back buttons to navigate questions within CourseWork (NOT those that are built into the browser) will also save the answers.
  • Do use a wired ethernet connection to connect to the internet, and disable your wireless connectivity when taking an online exam. Wireless internet may be unreliable at times, which could prevent your answers from being saved or submitted correctly.
  • Do write down your answers on a piece of paper as a back up, in case you forget to save regularly.
  • Do log out of the browser and close the browser (Command+W on Mac) after taking your exam. The computers may be used by other students for other exams, and not logging out will allow other people to access your accounts, including email and Axess.
  • Do follow the honor code when taking the exam.
  • Do not have CourseWork open on multiple tabs, windows, or computers while you are logged into CourseWork. Having a CourseWork assignment open on one tab and having any other CourseWork page open on another tab/window/computer is likely to cause problems with the assignment and may cause the assignment to be submitted automatically, or may prevent answers from being saved properly.
  • Do not use your browser's Back and Forward buttons. This can cause problems with your assignment (may get automatically submitted, answers may not get saved, etc).
  • Do not try making last second changes to your answers if the time limit is up and your assignment is being automatically submitted. There is a delay between when it starts submitting and finishes submitting. During this brief moment, you can still change your answers, however, any changes made will not be submitted, and you may see a "Data Discrepancy" error. To ensure the proper submission of their intended answers, students should save often, and avoid making any last second changes, especially if there is a time limit.

For Instructors

  • Do reserve rooms with sufficient space for your online exam, and remember to take into account extra space for students if you would like them to be spread out. We recommend reserving one or both of the large lecture halls in the LKSC (LK120 or LK130) if possible, depending on how many students you have.
  • Do plug in computers/laptops for power.
  • Do use an ethernet connection for computers to ensure stable internet connectivity, and have wireless connections disabled. LK130 has power and ethernet ports at every seat, and LK120 has power and ethernet ports at approximately every other seat.
  • Do use Firefox as the web browser for browsing CourseWork, with Safari and Chrome as second options. Internet Explorer is not recommended.
  • Do set a username/password to your exam using the "High Security" option in the assignment settings in CourseWork. This will ensure that students are given instructions about the exam first, before they are able to go in and take the exam.
  • Do ensure that the assignment due date (if used) is sufficiently after the time limit expiration -- a due date before the time limit runs out will automatically submit the assignment for students, even if they see that they still have time left on the timer.
  • Do include the honor code statement at the start of your exam, either as Agree/Disagree multiple choice question, or in the assignment introduction.
  • Do use images less than 600 pixels wide, to prevent horizontal scrolling of the browser, which may cause students to overlook parts of the image.
  • Do enable "Mark for Review" in your assignment settings. This allows students to mark a question to go back to it later in their Table of Contents. This does not work for assignments where students cannot go back to a previous question.
  • Do set the feedback release date to a date after all students have taken the exam. Not setting a feedback release date may potentially allow students to view the correct answers and their scores before all students have completed the exam.
  • Do display all the questions on one page for your exam, or at least each part on its own page. Students prefer to be able to skim through questions quickly, and having each question on its own page is very slow and tedious to browse.
  • Do have students write down the computer number for the computer they used. This allows EdTech to troubleshoot issues, and potentially recover lost files.
  • Do remind students, every 10-15 minutes, to save their answers.
  • Do make a paper backup copy of the exam, of which you could make copies, in case there is a major power or network outage that prevents all students from taking the exam (continuing the exam is at your discretion).
  • Do let EdTech know if there are any students needing special accommodations as much in advance as possible. We may need to reserve extra rooms and computers for you.
  • Do not enable the answer choice randomization option for your questions; if a student has to resume the exam and they didn't save, but they wrote down their answers on paper, the order of the answers on paper will not match the order on the exam when they take it again.

Other General Notes

  • If there are students who have started an assignment with no time limit, but not have submitted them, instructors have the option of forcing submission of all assignments, even those in progress. In the "Settings" page, simply set a due date and time, and then check the box to automatically submit all assignments once the due date passes. Note: Even if this setting is enabled, it can take up to a few hours for the assignments to get automatically submitted.