Friday, April 1, 2011

Testing in Online Classes

Testing in Online Classes
Linda S Pogue

When taking classes online, different instructors have different ideas on testing. Some instructors may have to follow college rules for testing, while others get to make up their own minds. So, what are the methods of testing in online classes that you may see?
There are basically three methods to online testing:

  1. Proctored exams. When instructors or colleges require proctored exams, you will have to locate an acceptable place to take your exam. Usually, the testing center of a local university or community college is the best place. Contact the testing center to find out what fees you will need to pay and to set up the time you need to take the exams. Your college will send the test to the testing center, or will have some specified way to ensure that you are taking the test there. Unless otherwise instructed by your teacher, the testing center will not allow you to have calculators, purses, backpacks, textbooks, or notes with you during the test.
  2. Online testing. Some online course rooms, such as Blackboard, have the testing function built-in. Instructors can add multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and essay questions to the course. Multiple choice exams, depending on how the instructor sets them up, usually give your grade immediately after completing the exam. Fill-in-the-blank exams may give a grade, but the grade may not be correct. For instance, if the answer was New World, and you typed new world, the computer will count the answer wrong. However, your instructor has the ability to go into each student's exam and review answers that he or she deems to be acceptable, and give those points back to the student. Essay questions must be graded by the instructor before the score appears. Online tests are usually timed to help deter cheating, and may have an online proctor who is logged in and monitoring your computer screen during the test to prevent the student searching the Internet for answers while taking the test. Some will require you to have a Web cam and scan te room with the camera before taking the exam.
  3. Open book testing. Some instructors have open book tests that are basically essay type tests, but these are usually harder than any of the other types of tests.

So, why have proctored exams, online proctors, and Web cams? Educational institutions are very concerned with maintaining the quality of their grading systems. If students cheat, they don't test well on exit exams, which reflects poorly on the university. The quality of the education the student receives is adversely affected, and the college accreditation may be impacted.

Whatever type of testing a college requires, the best way to prepare for exams is to do your assignments, read the material, and review it every week. If you review every week, there is no need to cram all the material the last few days before the exam. You will know enough that it won't take long to study the material you just recently learned in class.

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