To assess learner work in online courses, instructors may decide simply to import an assessment instrument from a textbook question bank. Learners can easily “cheat” on these assessments; even if the learners use lock down browsers on one device, their other devices are available and can connect to course materials and the internet.

Another challenge that assessments may present to learners is that the assessments may not assess learner progress to course objectives or the link to course objectives may not be visible to learners.

Moreover, if instructors and learners are working with limited bandwidth, holding bandwidth for an online assessment may not be the most optimal. For these reasons, best practices for testing include:

  • asking questions that require combinations of materials from a variety of weeks/modules/units
  • reworking questions from a test bank so that learners cannot Google them
  • reverse the answers and questions on exams already created
  • clearly state question stems 
  • avoiding “all/none of the above” responses and “yes/no” or “true/false” 
  • most importantly, re-think the why of testing

Seek to find out if learners have reached the objectives to which you were teaching, not “finished the work” or “have done the homework.” Given a rubric, learners may willingly suggest ways to demonstrate their learning in multiple modalities, perhaps without the time limits imposed by the online version of a traditional test. The more modalities instructors can use to assess learner progress to course goals, the better.


Online quizzes are an opportunity to provide feedback to learners and to assist them with learning. A Quiz in Blackboard is created in the same manner as a Test, the difference is noted in the design and purpose of either a quiz or a test.  

  • A unit or chapter pre- and post-quiz assessment can guide learners to concentrate on areas and provide them motivation for mastery. 
  • Quizzes can be used to provide feedback and check for understanding. 
  • Many textbooks have quiz banks, but these may not be the best way to check for understanding. Also, answers to these tend to be available online.
  • For self-checks, instructors can allow for multiple attempts on the quiz. 
  • To build upon understanding in course material, instructors can use quizzes as a self-reflection for learners to check themselves and to evaluate the overall learner cohort for proficiency. 
  • Instructors may also use quizzes as check-ins to measure learners' understanding of topics and to align to course learning objectives. 
  • Provide feedback in the quiz answers so that learners can use quizzes as learning tools and to check their own understanding. 
  • Organize quizzes by topic, week, chapters or units, and keep quizzes short. 
  • Use the learner’s objectives as a reference for their progress and understanding. 
  • A quiz can be a way to receive information and feedback from the learners in the class. Examples include:  ask the class to provide feedback about the murkiest point and most difficult concepts in the class.  Ask the students to write quiz or test questions and provide the correct answers. 
  • The same tool in Blackboard is used to create Tests and Quizzes. 

Quizzes may not be the best possible option for learners to demonstrate their progress toward course goals and objectives or even to check their progress to goals and learning objectives. Does another mode or method of evaluation exist for this purpose? Could it be useful in this circumstance? 

Sources and Relevant Links

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