Assignments, Tests, and Quizzes

Assessment in a Fully Online Environment

As we approach the end of the spring 2020 semester, first let's all take a collective deep breath. As the final exam period approaches, many of us are considering how best to approach the final course assessment. How do we effectively and fairly assess our students learning in this online environment? Can I transform online assessments to an advantage for myself and my students? What can I do to maximize students' efforts and disincentivize academic dishonesty?

Here are some things to consider as you prepare for final exams:

Consider what type of assessment is the most appropriate.

Can you convert your exam to an essay or final project? Would a short answer test be appropriate even though you normally have a multiple choice test? Assessment at Queens College has guidance resources which you may find helpful. And as you review your assessment format, you can find resources here for assessments specific to the distance learning format.

Before the exam, inform students of the format of the exam.

If there is a change in the format of the exam than originally indicated in your syllabus, notify students of this change along with a justification in writing.

Consider giving a mock or practice exam.

Let students practice the exam format and technology to identify any possible access or other technical issues. This will reduce their stress during the actual test and can help you identify any issues in advance.

Post the CUNY academic integrity policy at the beginning of your test.

You can link to the policy in its entirety but consider summarizing the components more relevant to your class. Suspected acts of academic dishonesty should be reported to Academic Integrity Violation Form. Make your expectations very clear to the students. Is the test open book? Are any online resources allowed? What about translation tools, calculators, or summary notes? Will the work be evaluated for plagiarism using Blackboard’s tools, TurnItIn or SafeAssign?

For online exams, use a tool that requires authentication.

For example, Blackboard (authentication through CUNY) or Google Classroom (authentication through Queens College). This is one way to verify the identity of the person logging in.

The campus has not purchased any distance learning proctoring software.

One reason is that they are not proven effective at reducing academic dishonesty. There are also technology compatibility and privacy issues to be considered. A more detailed summary of those issues can be found here and here.

If students report login issues or internet access issued during the test.

Have students provide a screenshot of the error message they receive. If the test is conducted on Blackboard, review the student access log.

Consider breaking up a long exam into several smaller units.

This can minimize the impact of internet access issues and the support you need to provide if students encounter problems.

Be empathetic. These changes are hard on everyone.

Consider expanding the time window that students can take an exam, even by 15 minutes. This will allow students time to get logged into Blackboard and address any connectivity issues. Perhaps reduce the penalty for late assignments or allow retakes if the log and student shows technical difficulties.


Assignments tends to be documents, presentations or reports that a student would normally physically hand in. If that's not possible, you can collect assignments using carious methods including the campus supported Learning Management Systems- Blackboard and Google Classroom.


  • Create assignments in your Blackboard course and grade them online. Be sure to use the Assessments interface when you set up the assignments. It creates a virtual dropbox for students to submit their files. Blackboard will automatically attach their names to the files, so it’s easy for you to keep track of them.

Google Classroom

Online tests or quizzes

You can quickly assess your students' understanding with automatic and manual grading tools. Specify correct answers, points, and give feedback for correct and incorrect responses. Identify frequently missed questions that need further review in the response summary.

You can use tests and surveys to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students.