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Best Practices for Tests in Blackboard: Faculty

On occasion, student assessment sessions in Blackboard are interrupted, leaving students with unfinished, sometimes un-submitted, exams. These often appear to faculty in the Grade Center with the “In Progress” icon rather than the “Needs Graded” icon or a grade. To fix this situation, instructors must submit the attempt on the student’s behalf, allow the student an additional attempt to complete the exam, or clear the student’s current, aborted attempt in order for the student to retake the exam from the beginning.  Which of these solutions is implemented is left to the instructor’s discretion, but usually depends on the student’s progress before the attempt was terminated.  While the occasional dropped session is unavoidable and to be expected, here are some recommendations and tips for faculty that should minimize the occurrence of this issue. 

  • Avoid creating large (50+ questions) online exams with many and/or complex questions, and keep the length of time necessary to take the assessment under an hour.  Consider breaking up longer exams into multiple shorter assessments, such as Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Do not activate the “Force Completion” feature. With Force Completion disabled, students will be able to re-enter the exam and finish their attempt from where they last saved their responses, rather than having to retake the assessment from the beginning after the failed attempt has been cleared by the instructor.  
    • NOTE: When “Force Completion is off, a timed assessment continues to track remaining time until the attempt is submitted, even if the student has left the session or signed out of the system entirely. The Auto-Submit feature also continues to function as expected. 
  • With lengthy exams, avoid using the “Randomize Questions” feature and the “Question-by-Question” display option at the same time. Randomizing the questions in addition to having the questions display one at a time complicates as well as increases interaction with the database, which creates additional opportunities for a failed connection or dropped session. 
  • Be aware that the “Feedback Options enabled for an assessment will be visible to the students for the duration of the course even if the assessment itself is unavailable (students can view enabled feedback via the My Grades tool). You may, however, adjust the Feedback Options from the Test Options page at any time, e.g. to allow a short review period. 
  • Preview assessments prior to making them available in order to detect and prevent problems before they affect students.
  • Review the Tips for Taking a Test in Blackboard: Students page.
  • Make sure to share the Tips for Taking a Test in Blackboard: Students page with your students prior to the exam period.