Best Practices for Quizzes and Tests

A number of instructors have expressed concern that students have had difficulty with quiz and test-taking in Blackboard. Of course, you should always provide a variety of assessments in your courses, but there are a few things you can do to decrease problems with Blackboard tests:

  • Limit the time for quizzes to no more than one hour. This will decrease the possibility of the system timing out and intermittent connectivity problems that result in the test getting locked.
  • If your test material requires more than one hour, divide it into sections (such as multiple choice and essay, part A and Part B, etc.).
  • Include detailed instructions with the quiz link so students can read them before actually starting the quiz. This will decrease stress and students will not have to spend quiz time reading instructions. They will also know what to expect before entering the test. You should include: how many questions, how many points possible, how much time is allowed for completion, and general instructions.
  • Unless there is a compelling reason to use the Test tool for essays (e.g. you want the assessment to be timed), it is best to set these items up with the assignment tool. This also allows you to download the file, do any markup, and upload with your assignment feedback.
  • Advise students of a few important guidelines:
    • Read the information on the Blackboard login page regarding browser issues.
    • Close all windows on the computer and then launch a new window to login to the learning management system.
    • Close other applications before taking the quiz/test (including chat programs).
    • If there is a specific start time for the test, login 10-15 minutes early to test the connection.
    • After opening the test, scroll to the bottom of the page to be sure the Save and Submit buttons are available.
    • Do NOT click “Submit” until you have completed the exam.
    • Do NOT use any of the browser navigation buttons (i.e. Back, Forward, Home, etc.) during the quiz/test.
    • Do NOT leave the assessment page without completing the assessment and clicking the “Submit” button at the end (if it is a forced completion test).
    • Do NOT click the Refresh or Reload buttons in your browser while taking the quiz/test.
    • Do NOT open other browser windows or applications while taking a CFCC quiz/test.
    • Do NOT click on buttons in the Blackboard navigation while taking a quiz/test. 
    • If you are only able to answer one question at a time (questions present themselves on separate pages), make sure you only single-click the “Next” button to move forward.
  • It is usually beneficial to students, especially those who have not taken an online test before, to provide them with a practice quiz  or low-stakes quiz to ensure that students are comfortable with the interface. This can be a simple survey or an icebreaker assignment at the beginning of the course that asks questions about the syllabus and course expectations. This will also let you know if students have read the syllabus and other course information.

If you would like feedback or advice to help you create course assessments or other course content, feel free to contact me at lstover@cfcc.edu or by phone at 910-362-7722 .

Liz Stover
Instructional Technologist