Tests

The Vice-Chancellor has announced (17 September 2020) that the University will remain in online learning and teaching mode up to and including 2 October. Tests will also be conducted online during this time.

Update: 17 September 2020

In response to Government guidelines for tertiary education providers in Auckland, and to ensure certainty and predictability for our students and staff, the Vice Chancellor has announced that will continue in online learning mode up to and including Friday 2 October, regardless of COVID-19 alert levels.

Guidelines for the delivery of online tests

Tests scheduled for delivery up to and including 20 September 2 October will be conducted online.* These tests should be non-invigilated, time-limited and designed to test higher-order thinking. The University is no longer recommending the use of 24-hour test windows.

* Special exceptions may apply for some tests in programmes where accreditation or registration requirements require an invigilated assessment to be undertaken. Tests scheduled for delivery on Tai Tokerau Campus may be delivered on campus.

Note: as per previous policy statements on online tests, test marks may not be reallocated to the final examination as a solution for the absence of secure assessment.

Course Directors should advise students as soon as possible about the arrangements for upcoming tests. The Staff Intranet has also collated other communications that have been sent to students.

Where practicable, consideration should be given to modifying tests to ensure they are appropriate for non-invigilated delivery. Students must be able to complete the set tasks in the time available. Feedback suggests that online tests often take longer than written tests, so consideration should be given to extending the time allowed for the test, where appropriate.

The University will seek to make bookable space available on multiple campuses 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. Further details will be provided.

Setting the availability times

Start times are recommended to be after 1pm to allow for differences with time zones in Asia where most offshore students are situated. Different start times may be required for remote students in other time zones (i.e. rolling start times). Advice on managing these exceptions where necessary for individual students can be found on the Canvas Quiz and Assignment pages.

A post-deadline window of 15 minutes must be available to allow for technical difficulties. Tests submitted after the deadline are late submissions and will be managed by the Course Director (or Faculty in the case of Law) on a case-by-case basis under the usual processes. Note: extra time must be added for students with approved special conditions sitting time-limited tests of 30 minutes or longer.

Find out how to set availability times on Canvas Quiz and Assignment pages.

Student support

Provision will be made through the University Call Centre for students requiring technical support while undertaking an online test.

  • For Canvas related questions, contact the Canvas Support (available 24 hours, 7 days a week). Staff can live Chat with Canvas Support.
  • For queries related to Lecture Recordings, contact the Learning & Teaching Team (available business hours). Email: canvashelp@auckland.ac.nz
  • If students in your classes have questions relating to their course and learning, they can contact the course director through Canvas.
  • For all other inquiries visit Ask Auckland.

We have also prepared some FAQs that might help if a problem occurs during the test.

Aegrotat and compassionate consideration

Revised aegrotat and compassionate consideration processes allow online consultation with University Health and Counselling Services to obtain evidence of impairment.

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

  • sit another written test; or
  • receive a mark for the test based on the average of marks awarded for other coursework; or
  • take a viva voce (oral) examination; or
  • have the percentage of marks allocated to the test reallocated to the examination.

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. Setting the test duration to individual students is outlined on the Canvas Quiz availability settings and Assignment availability settings.

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

Designing tests

Academic integrity
Students sitting online tests must be advised about the importance of academic integrity  and the University’s approach to academic misconduct, including the identification of students who dishonestly use external online resources during tests.

Regular communication to students regarding the importance of academic integrity to student learning and for academic standards is strongly recommended. For example:

Open or closed 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.

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. Add them to your Canvas course with the Teaching Support role.

Organising tasks
The online format provides a unique opportunity to design your 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 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).
  • Indicate the number of attempts allowed for Quiz-type assessments. See Quiz options.
  • For discursive, essay-type questions, indicate an expected word count that is appropriate for the level of study, discipline, and weighting of the question. See: Short answer and essay questions.

See also: Student experience.

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 (e.g. a practice Quiz or a Assignment of type ‘File Upload’) prior to the test to ensure they are familiar with the technological requirements for uploading images.
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