Tests and exams

This guide provides assistance in the development, design and delivery of examinations in accordance with the Teaching delivery, coursework, tests and examinations policy for 2021.

Guidelines for the delivery of mid-semester tests

A ‘test’ is defined as an assessment that would ordinarily be conducted in an invigilated setting at a specified time outside of the examination period, that counts towards the final grade of the course, and is time-limited.

COVID alert level 1

Tests will be conducted on campus under invigilated conditions.

 

COVID alert level 2 or higher

Tests ordinarily sat under examination conditions will become online, non-invigilated, time-limited tests, which should be designed to test higher-order thinking. You can choose whether you use Canvas Quizes, Assignments, or Inspera (recommended). Keeping in mind that Inspera will be used for the final exam, this might be an opportunity for students to become familiar with the platform.

Read about the modified compassionate consideration procedure for tests and quizzes (scheduled 23-29 August) during alert level 4. The Compassionate Consideration Application Form is available on the University website.

To note:

  • Staff must not set up ad hoc invigilation methods for online tests.
  • Long test windows (such as 24-hour test windows) must not be used.
  • Test design for remote or off-shore students must ensure that students will be able to complete the set tasks in the time available.
  • Online tests often take longer than written tests, so consideration must be given to extending the time allowed for the test, where appropriate.
  • In the online test format, students must be able to review previous answers.
  • Students must have an opportunity to complete a practice exercise prior to the test to ensure they are familiar with the technological requirements.
  • The requirement in the Assessment (Courses, Tests and Examination) Policy that ‘tests which count towards the final result of a course will be conducted under examination conditions’ is waived.
  • Some tests with approved exceptions by an Associate Dean (Academic) through faculty committees may be conducted on campus at alert level 2. For example, some courses in programmes where accreditation or registration requirements require an on-campus, invigilated test to be undertaken. Tests scheduled on campuses outside of Auckland at different alert levels may take place on campus.
  • Spaces may be available at some alert levels for students who need a suitable study space to complete an online test. This process will be managed centrally and in accordance with Government guidelines.
  • Appropriate measures will be put in place for students to support equitable participation in online tests and examinations.

Final exam arrangements for the remainder of 2021

The University’s online examinations platform is Inspera.

Examinations in Semester Two and Quarters 3 and 4 will be conducted as non-invigilated, online, time-limited exam (regardless of COVID-19 alert level) and designated as ‘open-book‘.

Courses that meet the criteria for an invigilated on-campus exam should apply for an exemption through their Associate Dean (Academic):

  • Courses with professional accreditation or registration requirements specifying and invigilated exam.
  • Courses that are a requirement for selection into limited entry programmes.
  • Courses with performance or practical examinations.

 

Notes:

  • If an exemption is approved, students must be advised as soon as possible.
  • An on-campus exam will involve appropriate physical distancing.
  • In the event that the University is under COVID alert level 3 or 4 restrictions, all exams will be online. An online version of the exam should be prepared as contingency.

Inspera Online Assessments

Inspera is the University’s platform for delivering online examinations.

Canvas Quiz and Assignment

Canvas can be used for both formative or summative modes of assessment.

Design multi-choice questions

Write MCQs that assess reasoning, rather than recall.

Short answer/essay questions

Design written answer questions that test higher cognitive skills.

Open or closed book?

Note: Final Exams in Semester Two and Quarters 3 and 4, 2021 will be conducted as Open Book.

Designing online tests often invites an open-book approach—a new experience to most students. Guide them on which resources you would like them to use, the nature of the responses you are seeking, and whether the use of other learning materials is relevant.

Consider the following:

  • Open Book (OB): Any written/printed material.
    • Students may refer to and cite any peer-reviewed resource from any source, any book (hard copy or online) and from any appropriate internet source such as a Government or accredited media website.
    • Students are typically assessed on their higher level and critical thinking skills, and this should be included in any assessment rubric.
    • Grading will often reflect the relevance and appropriateness of the sources cited to support arguments or explanations by way of evidence and/or examples.
    • We have provided a guide for redesigning your test questions for open-book format.
  • Restricted Book (RB): May be written upon.
    • Students must only refer to and cite from the resources listed and supplied, and must not refer to any other sources.
  • Closed Book (CB): No books allowed.

See also: Book designations as defined by the Examinations Office.

Equity and equivalence

Students studying remotely or offshore

  • Students studying remotely or off-shore will complete non-invigilated, online, time-limited tests and exams, regardless of COVID-19 alert level.
  • Due to practical considerations, exams for students studying remotely may differ from those completed by on-campus students, but will be of equivalent difficulty and address the same learning outcomes.

See also: guidance for higher-risk students.

Equity considerations

Any required changes to teaching delivery and assessments must adhere to inclusive design principles to avoid creating additional barriers to learning and teaching. Teaching staff should refer to the following resources to support inclusive course design:

In particular, it is important to take into account the support needs of students with disabilities in any changes to teaching delivery and assessments.

Any changes must align with the University’s Inclusive Learning and Teaching of Students with Impairments Guidelines and avoid creating additional barriers to learning for students with disabilities. These guidelines allow for ‘choice in assignment topics and formats where appropriate to provide different but equivalent assessment options’.

The University offers a range of support to students with disabilities to enable them to participate in teaching and to be assessed fairly. Teaching staff should work with Student Disability Services and the Examinations Office to enable:

  • Special conditions in written tests and examinations.
  • Approved special conditions for students with disabilities sitting tests and exams (approved special conditions will apply to any timed assessment of 30 minutes or longer, including if a student requires support such as a reader or writer).*
  • Adjustments to online assessments to meet student support needs (e.g., extra time*, enlarged fonts, colour contrast changes, text to speech, spell check).
  • Notetaking support to provide Canvas ‘Observer’ access to note-takers and/or permanent staff in Student Disability Services who are assisting with note-taking.
  • Alternative assessment.
  • Access plans for students.

* Where a student is approved a reader, but one is not available or appropriate, teaching staff should record an audio file of the question by following these guidelines for recording audio media.

If using Canvas to deliver a mid-semester test, setting the test duration to individual students is outlined on the Canvas Quiz availability settings and Assignment availability settings.

See also guidelines for higher-risk students.

Special conditions

Mid-semester tests

  • Students with temporary or permanent disabilities or conditions that affect their ability to sit tests under the prescribed conditions may apply for special conditions through Student Disability Services.
  • Approved students are entitled to special conditions for timed (on-campus or online) tests of 30 minutes or longer, including where appropriate support from a reader or writer.
  • At COVID alert level 2 or above, students should be advised to contact Student Disability Services to discuss additional options for assistance in online tests.

 

Final exams

The Examinations Office will identify students with disability-related support needs that are not met by additional time alone (e.g., a reader or writer).* The Office will then work with course coordinators to find alternative solutions, including alternative times or locations, or different but equivalent assessment options in accordance with the University’s Inclusive Learning and Teaching of Students with Impairments Guidelines.

* Where a student requires a reader, but one is not available or appropriate, examiners should record an audio file of the question (see recording audio media).

  • At level 1 and 2 students with temporary or permanent disabilities or conditions that affect their ability to sit examinations under the prescribed onsite conditions may apply for special conditions through the Examinations Services Office.
  • At Level 3 and 4 students with impairments or special requirements should be advised to contact the Examinations Services Office to discuss additional options for assistance in an online examination.

Advice for staff on assistance for students with approved special conditions sitting online examinations may be found on the Canvas Resources website.

See also guidelines for higher-risk students.

Aegrotat and compassionate consideration

Administration fees for applications for aegrotat and compassionate consideration are reinstated for 2021.

Procedures for aegrotat and compassionate consideration applications allow for a ‘virtual’ consultation with University Health and Counselling Services to obtain evidence of impairment where required. Alert-level permitting, in-person consultations can also be arranged with appropriate physical distancing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in place.

For Semester One, and Quarters One and Two examination aegrotats, the usual requirement is reinstated that: in order to make a recommendation for an aegrotat or compassionate grade, a student’s coursework must be ‘well above minimum pass standard’.

For mid-semester tests

Students approved for an aegrotat or compassionate consideration for a test may be permitted (at the discretion of an Academic Head) to either:

  • Sit another written test.
  • Receive a mark for the test based on the average of marks awarded for other coursework.
  • Take a viva voce (oral) examination.
  • Have the percentage of marks allocated to the test reallocated to the examination.

Where possible, we recommend that students sit an alternative, on-site deferred test to ensure that a component of secure assessment is available should the student require an aegrotat for the final examination. Alternative test questions must be of comparable difficulty and format.

Designing tests and exams

The use of specialised and/or additional software must be approved by the Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching or Academic) before writing the assessment tasks.

Academic integrity

Giving students a context for their efforts in their studies and the goals they are working towards, developing a mutual high-trust relationship with students, and talking with them about the importance of academic integrity and its consequences can help prevent academic dishonesty.

We encourage teaching staff to include a statement relating to academic integrity in online assessments.

Concerns with students posting or sharing questions and answers on social media during online assessments

The following are some other ways to minimise and/or mitigate posting/sharing of questions and answers:

  • Sharing should be actively discouraged. However, if any assessment questions have been shared, they should be easily detectable if you have designed your assessment questions by asking students to:
    • Use reflective writing techniques to substantiate, support and/or personalise academic arguments.
    • Use critical thinking skills to analyse ideas with reference to sources, explanations, evidence, examples and interpretations of these.
    • Analyse, compare and contrast solutions to problems.
    • Diagnose and/or explain the methodology used.
  • You may wish to consider reminding your students of the University Code of Conduct for students.
  • Turnitin should be used where possible, to detect similarities between students’ written answers. Consider whether Turnitin for Canvas Assignments and Canvas Quizzes for essay type answers would be appropriate for your context and discipline.
  • The revised academic misconduct policy, adopted in 2020, applies in online examinations in 2021.
  • The normal policy and processes for academic misconduct, as per the Student Academic Misconduct Statute, apply to exams conducted on-campus.

Designing tasks

Design the assessment so that well-prepared students should be able to complete it in the time allocated for the assessment under usual conditions. The workload should be equivalent to normal assessment times even if the questions are modified for online delivery.

Keep in mind that if questions are modified, for example changing them from MCQ to short answer questions, you may need to reduce the number of questions for providing equivalency.

Avoid tasks with research expectations that will exceed the time frame. Students have been informed that the assessments should be able to be completed within the scheduled length of the test that it has replaced.

Consider whether you require your students to reference their sources. Referencing takes additional time for students to do, which should be accounted for in the total time to complete the assessment. References generally would not count towards the total word count.

Finally, please ask a colleague to review your test in advance. If delivering your test in Canvas, add them to your course with the Teaching Support role.

Organising tasks within Canvas

The following pertains to using Canvas to deliver a mid-semester test. We recommend you design the test as a series of short tasks, divided into sections.
  • In Canvas, create an assignment group within Canvas Assignments.
  • You may wish to add sections that includes both Quizzes and Assignment submissions within the same assignment group:

    • By separating out the learning outcomes to make it explicit to students what you are assessing, e.g., writing skills, reading comprehension, and so on…
    • By question types, e.g., multi-choice question, short answer, essay question.
    • By course topics.
    • By how you wish to organise marking, e.g., specialty topics of markers.
    • By functionality of Quiz or Assignment, depending on what you would like your students to do for their assessment.
  • Remember to communicate clearly to students that all sections must be completed in order to complete the test. You can do this by:
    • Adding instructions to the Group name of the Assignment Group.
    • Adding instructions within a Canvas Quiz by selecting ‘Text (no question)’.

Clear expectations

It is important for students to know what knowledge they are expected to demonstrate in their online test or exam. Set clear expectations to help alleviate stress and anxiety and potentially decrease the likelihood of poor academic practice.

  • Give plenty of warning when the assessment will be.
  • Avoid introducing any new material during the assessment.
  • Clearly set out your expectations for the assessment in the question instructions.
  • Share the marking rubric with your students prior to them sitting the assessment.

Students are expected to complete the assessment under various conditions (environment, hardware, internet access etc.).

Clear instructions

Provide clear instructions on the format of the assessment and the expectations on students—this will help minimise confusion and stress.
  • Indicate the time it will take students to complete the whole assessment and also the different sections.
    E.g., Section 1: Essay #1 (this task should take you approximately 1 hour).
  • For discursive, essay-type questions, indicate an expected word count that is appropriate for the level of study, discipline, whether they will be expected to reference their sources, and the weighting of the question. See: Short answer and essay questions.

Tests with diagrams and equations

Tests that require the student to draw diagrams or write equations should be designed so that the answers are submitted via scanned images or photographs (meta-data must be included with any images uploaded). Prepare students in advance to download a document scanning app for their mobile device (e.g., Adobe scanMicrosoft Office Lens or Camscanner).

Students must have an opportunity to complete a practice exercise prior to the assessment to ensure they are familiar with the technological requirements for uploading images. If you are using Canvas for a mid-semester test, create a practice Quiz or a Assignment of type ‘File Upload’. For Inspera, students can select the Demo Test 1 exam.

Referencing

The nature of the assessment question/task may require students to reference their sources. Consider what would be appropriate given the task, the discipline, and the level of your student cohort.

Referencing is a mechanism for students to demonstrate their critical thinking skills in being able to research, identify, and evaluate information in using appropriate scholarly resources for their assessment task. It is also an important way for students to demonstrate their understanding of academic integrity.

We recommend students are given clear instructions on the expectations for referencing in online assessments—whether it is required, or how it will be assessed. Referencing takes time and should be accounted for in the total time to complete the assessment. References generally would not count towards the word count.

 

Open Book

Under the Open Book designation, students may refer to any written/printed material, including online sources. Provide very clear guidelines to students of your expectations. We recommend you communicate to your students:

  • Why they need to reference for their assessment.
  • How you require students to reference (e.g., referencing style, in-text citation and end of text citations, expectations with paraphrasing and quoting, and so on).
  • How referencing will be assessed (e.g., how many sources are expected, the quality of sources you expect, and so on).

If, as a lecturer, you are concerned about the possibility of students referring to inappropriate resources and/or inappropriately citing and referencing them and/or the potential for increased plagiarism, this option may be useful for open book assessments:

  • Provide very clear instructions to students of your requirements, particularly to provide evidence of the reference.
  • It would also make the task of marking easier if students are given clear instructions on what referencing style you would like them to follow. Refer to QuickCite for guides to referencing.

 

Restricted Book

Under the Restricted Book designation, students must only refer to and cite from the resources listed and supplied, and must not refer to other resources.

Two types of citations you may wish for students to provide in their assessment:

  • We suggest you require students to include in-text citations and provide instructions for them. A simple in-text citation you may wish to use is (author, year) and/or (author, year, p._) if a direct quote.
  • For end-text citations (i.e., a reference list at the end of the document), you could either:
    • Provide students with the complete reference list.
    • Ask students to complete a reference list. Provide instructions on how they could do this e.g., refer them to the referencing style guide in QuickCite.
    • Not require students to include a reference list.

Student experience

Announcements to students before the final exam

Please direct students to the information about online exams on the University central website. The Examinations Office also emails students with information to prepare them for the exam. You can view the archive of messages sent to students.

To reinforce the communication with students, please feel free to send these instructions in advance of the exam. Delete the passage that doesn’t apply to your context.

Please note, as per the usual requirements for exams, you must not directly contact your instructor about your exam.


Student Support

  • If you need help during your online exam, please call the Contact Centre for advice.
    • The Contact Centre will be open 8:00am – 10:00pm Monday to Friday and 12pm – 10:00pm Saturday, throughout the Exam period.
    • Phone: (Auckland) 09 373 7513, (New Zealand) 0800 61 62 63, or (International) +64 9 373 7513.
  • If you are unable to call, please email studentinfo@auckland.ac.nz and provide exam details, contact details and a description of the issue.

Please note that emailed responses may not be able to be provided before your exam submission deadline so please call in the first instance.

 

Inspera Exams

An Inspera announcement will be made if there are any corrections or clarifications regarding your exam.

  • Online exams have an additional 30 minutes added to the exam duration to allow you time to submit all components of your exam including uploading any documents where required.
  • It is recommended that you start uploading any documents at least 10 minutes before the deadline. It takes several minutes for your submission to upload. After you have uploaded a document, you should check that the correct document has been uploaded.
  • You cannot submit a document in Inspera after the exam due time if the upload process has not started before the deadline. It is your responsibility to ensure your assessment is successfully submitted on time. You must contact the Student Contact Centre if you run into technical difficulties submitting your exam.

Before your exam, it is highly recommended you take a demo assessment ahead of your exams to ensure your device is compatible and you are familiarised with the platform. It’s quick and easy and is the best place to start when preparing for online exams this semester.

Please read the Inspera exam FAQ’s.

 

Canvas Exams

If you face a technical issue with Canvas, live chat is available 24/7 with Canvas Support, via the Help button within your Canvas left-hand sidebar.

If you are in New Zealand, you can also call the Canvas Support Hotline on 0800 005 205.

If any correction to the online exam is made, you will be notified via a Canvas Announcement. Please ensure your notifications are turned on during this period.

  • Online exams have an additional 30 minutes added to the exam duration to allow you time to submit your exam document.
  • It is recommended that you start submitting your work at least 10 minutes before the deadline. It takes several minutes for your submission to upload. After submission you should check that the correct document has been uploaded.
  • Once the submission deadline has passed, normal Canvas submission is not possible. It is your responsibility to ensure your assessment is successfully submitted on time.
  • If you are unable to submit before the deadline, you need to upload your exam submission document as a comment. You will also need to contact exams@auckland.ac.nz and provide an explanation and evidence as to why your submission was late (i.e., technical difficulties).
  • Late submissions added as a comment may receive a penalty. Submission documents that have been modified in any way after the deadline (document metadata) cannot be accepted for marking.

Practice assessments for students

For many examiners, the major change they will make will be in the ways questions are asked in online assessments vs previous on-campus tests. It may be worth discussing this with your students:

  • You could put up an announcement explaining that due to the changes in the type of assessment, you will be asking more questions that require the application of information (for example) as compared to previous years that asked for more content recall.
  • You may wish to give your students some examples of the ways that you will ask questions in the assessment.
  • An Inspera practice exam has been created for students to familiarise themselves with the platform. However, it is worth reiterating that the practice exam does not account for any of their course grades and is completely voluntary. They can do this by logging into Inspera using their University sign-in details, selecting the Demo tests tab, and doing Demo Test 1. If using Canvas to deliver a mid-semester test, provide an ungraded practice Assignment or practice Quiz.

There are additional suggestions for preparing students on the Inspera page.

During the test or exam

Provision will be made through the University Call Centre for students requiring technical support while undertaking an online test or exam. For Canvas related questions, students can contact the Canvas Support (available 24 hours, 7 days a week). Staff can live Chat with Canvas Support.

We have also prepared some FAQs for examiners if a problem occurs during the test or exam.

Setting the availability of mid-semester tests

Where possible, online tests should be scheduled with a simultaneous start time to the on-campus test. Start times are recommended to be after 1pm to allow for differences with Asian time zones, where most remote students will be situated. Rolling start times may be required for remote students in other time zones.

Consideration must be given to extending the time allowed for the test, where appropriate.

If you are using Canvas to deliver the mid-semester test, find out how to set availability times on Canvas Quiz and Assignment pages. If you are using Inspera, check out the quick reference guides from the Inspera Staff Development Hub.

Final exam availability

For final exams, the availability times are based on the scheduled exam timetable. Students can view their view their timetable via the instructions on the University website.

The Exams Office will adjust the correct start/end times as well as any provisions for special conditions, offshore and overloaded students within Inspera.

See also: Important dates for submitting exams and Inspera exam process for teachers.

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