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Challenges, Best Practices, and Recommendations for Online Tests

Below are some recommendations and strategies to help you use Blackboard to successfully administer your tests online. Blackboard can be used to deliver a variety of assessments, from short practice quizzes to midterms or final exams. Understanding the recommendations and their implications will help minimize issues with Blackboard testing and eliminate confusion for you and your students.  Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic has required us to develop teaching and learning contingency plans. With Blackboard never having been utilized at such a scale, you may want to consider rethinking your approach to assessments, accounting for academic integrity and technical considerations.  Start by familiarizing yourself with recommendations below for test creation and delivery and then delve into learning details of building and administering tests in Blackboard.


Recommendations for Using Blackboard to Create and Deliver Tests

  • Recognize that an online test lacks the control and oversight of a test administered in a classroom setting but there are approaches you can take to mitigate the possibility of dishonesty. You may also consider using an alternative testing approach to a multiple-choice-type test.  Thoroughly re-consider how you write questions to prompt deeper thought and avoid easy look-up.

  • Be aware of the different ways to build tests in Blackboard.
  • Manage availability and timing options
    • Allow a wide availability window and time the test attempt(s) to reduce the impact of any technical issues students may encounter and provide better Blackboard performance. 
      • For example, students may complete a one-hour test between 8 a.m. and Midnight on Monday.
      • Explore the adaptive release feature to manage access to the test for sub-divisions of your class roster.
    • Make effective use of Blackboard’s test options to minimize cheating .
    • Break up a large test. For large roster sections, consider administering the test in multiple time slots for subsets of your class
      (separate tests for groups of students or multiple tests of subsets of 10 or 20 questions each).

  • Prepare your students.
    • Ensure that students have ample notice and clear instructions for the test. Inform them of the test settings and policies such as whether the test is timed, possible penalties for working after time expires, how many attempts they have, or whether questions will be automatically or manually graded.
    • Communicate how you will address technical interruptions in student's test-taking to ensure that if an issue comes up, you can handle it swiftly and fairly.
    • Build-in additional time that you think the test requires to allow potential issues to work themselves out, ultimately saving you time

  • Use recommended browsers: Use Chrome or Firefox – Not, Safari, Internet Explorer, nor Edge which do not currently work well with Blackboard.

Building and Administering Tests in Blackboard

Create the Test

First you need to create a Test in your Blackboard course.  This represents the "container" to which you will add questions, Question Sets, Random Blocks of questions, and the like.

Add Questions

Once you've created the Test "container," you need to add your questions.  You should first decide if you will create questions from scratch, utilize Pools, or if you will use Question Sets or Random Blocks, as well as what kind of questions you will include in the Test.

Administer the Test

After you have created the Test and added questions in the suitable manner, you need to deploy the Test in a Content Area of the course, where students can access it, and select the Test Options controlling many of the recommendations offered such as timing, availability, and number of attempts.


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