Blackboard Learn offers the ability for faculty to provide tests and quizzes that students can complete outside of normal class hours, or in the case of online or blended courses, the tests and quizzes given on Blackboard can replace those normally given in a traditional classroom. However, there can be concerns with regards to the security of Blackboard-based quizzes and exams. While it may not be possible to completely safeguard exams outside of having those taken by students with a proctor present, instructors can use tools and settings to provide as many safeguards as possible for their exams.
When setting up the options on a quiz or exam, one of the ways to protect information on the assessment is to restrict the amount of feedback presented to the student. Simply displaying the score will only show the score or grade the student earned. There are additional feedback options however that may reveal more information than an instructor may want students to view. The Submitted Answers feedback option will display to the students the answers they provided and if the answer was correct or incorrect. The Correct Answers feedback option will display the question and the correct answer for the question. The Feedback option will give feedback that are created by the instructor for the students.
For the most security it may be best to not turn on the Correct Answers option, as it will list all questions on the exam plus the correct answers for each question.
Randomize Your Questions and Question Answers
Blackboard can randomize the presentation order of the questions on assessments, so that each individual student is presented with the questions in a different order. When editing test options, in the Test Presentation area, click the Randomize Questions option.
Randomizing can also be done within the answer options on individual questions. What this means is that on a multiple choice question where the correct answer is “orange”, one student may see it as option A, another student as option C. To display answers in random order, when creating or editing individual questions, under the Options area click Show Answers in Random Order, if that option is available for that question type.
Utilize Test Pools and Random Blocks
Using the Test Pool tool in Blackboard can create questions that can be used over and over in quizzes and exams. When combined with Random Block questions, students can all have their own unique exam.
To access the Test Pool tool in Learn, in the Control Panel click Course Tools, and then click Tests, Surveys, and Pools. Then, click the Pools link. Instructors can then build a new pool and add questions to that pool, or import a pool from another course or from a test generation program that may be supplied with a textbook or other resource.
To use a Random Block, when creating an exam question, select Reuse Question, and then click Create Random Block. Then you can specify what pool questions come from, and then how many questions are wanted from that specific block. It is possible to add more random block questions to your exam from different test pools within the course.
While students may have the some of the same questions on their exams, each student will have a different mix of questions. If only one test pool is being used with a random block question, it is important to make sure the test pool has more questions than would be asked to ensure that few, if any, students will have the same exact questions on their exams.
Setting Timer and Auto-Submit
Instructors have the option to enable a timer on a quiz or exam, and students can view how much time they have remaining on that assessment. When a student exceeds the time limit, by default the student will not receive a grade and the result is noted as “Needs Grading” in the Grade Center; instructors have the ability to either accept the grade as-is or to provide a penalty for going over time if needed.
Blackboard Learn does have a feature called Auto-Submit, which will automatically submit the student’s exam when time runs out on the time, whether the student has completed the assessment or not. However, students who need additional time due to a documented disability may need to have an alternate exam created.
What About Force Completion?
Force completion requires a student to stay in a quiz or exam once they’ve started. However, if a student is using an unstable connection to the Internet (wi-fi, cellular broadband, dialup, etc), even a momentary loss of connection while taking an assessment that has force completion turned on will force the student out of the exam or quiz. It is recommended this not be turned on; when Force Completion is not turned on, the student will be able to re-enter the quiz or exam and pick up on the question where they left off.
For high-stakes exams, such as mid-terms and finals, it may be desirable to have the test proctored, meaning that the student’s exam is supervised. To ensure the security of proctored exams, instructors may place a password on the assessment and only provide the password to the exam proctor. Using a password will prevent students who are not taking the exam through a proctor from taking the assessment.
Instructors cede a lot of control over the environment a student takes a Blackboard-based assessment in. However, there are steps that can be taken to control security over those assessments. If you have questions about assessment settings in Blackboard Learn, please contact email@example.com for more information.