There are many benefits for using Blackboard to conduct your tests, especially in the time it would save in grading them later on. Scan Tron may provide some help, but then you have to deal with cases in which students who do not fill out their ID numbers correctly or fill in two bubbles for the same answer, and all such fun stuff that get you stuck before the Scan Tron machine. For short-answer and essay questions you will have to grade, by using Blackboard you can avoid handwritten notes that are sometimes hard to read.
However, thorough preparation before a test is extremely important to make your Blackboard test experience as smooth as possible. Here are a few suggestions to get you ready for conducting tests online:
1. Take the test like a student:
There is no better solution to mistake-proof your test than to take it yourself beforehand, in the format you want students to use. This is essential for high-stake tests with large classes, or lengthy tests to be taken over an extended period of time. Turn your edit mode to “off” so that you can take the tests yourself beforehand (the tests would need to be temporarily available for such purpose). Grades for tests instructors take will not be recorded in the Grade Center. Isn’t that great news!
As you take the tests yourself, record the mistakes you saw and then proceed to step 2 below.
2. Check the content:
To make corrections to your test content, such as wrong answers and typos, some of which (answers especially) would be difficult to change once students have started taking them, click the option icon (>> upside down), select “edit the test” , and then edit specific questions with whatever errors you have caught.
3. Check the test parameters:
Check the test options to make sure you have set it up properly. This involves a lot of options which you can customize, such as availability of your tests, timer, method for presentations etc. For really high stake tests that you suspect a possibility of student being logged out in the middle of the tests, I would recommend not using the option for “force completion” or “auto-submit”. If students are forced to complete in one sitting, you will need to clear their attempt in the Grade Center before they are allowed to come back to the test in case their computer froze. Of course, if you would prefer to clear their attempt for them to take it again, that would be fine too. It is up to you to make the choice either way.
4. Deploy a trial test before a real one:
If you have a high-stake test to conduct, especially if you want to use Lockdown Browser, try deploying a simple one-question “trial test” that you won’t actually grade so that students can make sure their computer is ready for the tests. Of course you can give extra credit for those to take this test.
5. Consider assignment tool for lengthy writing:
Blackboard tests allow you to include essay questions. However, for essays of some length, there is the risk that computer problems may cause students to lose their work while writing it. To minimize such risk, as you are designing the tests, you may ask yourself whether this is something you’d want students to do using the test format. Is it better to use “assignment” to submit, say, a one-page response to a question, while letting the test to handle other standardized questions?
Make sure you consider all of these factors sufficiently in advance. Do not wait for the last minute to make changes, as you might not have time, or you might not be able to make any changes once students have started.
You can also ask the North Institute to check the settings of your tests for you (not the content though). Please feel free to contact us if you need such assistance.