Assignments & Assessments

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Find approaches for distributing and collecting online assignments and assessments, including midterm and final exams. Your faculty, department, school, or program may have provided specific guidance about exams; please be sure that what you choose fits with that guidance.

Set Up Assignments | Set Up Assessments | Proctor Exams Asynchronously | Invigilate Real-Time Exams | Consider Other Alternatives to In-Person Exams


Set Up Assignments

Assignments can be facilitated through your Canvas course. You can create an individual or group assignment that will give students a convenient place to submit their work online.

Create an assignment in Canvas

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Assignments in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the +Assignment blue button in the upper right side of the screen.
  3. Enter the assignment name and provide any instructions using the text editor.
  4. Indicate the number of points, the assignment group (i.e., the group of assignments this should belong to for grading purposes, if applicable), and submission type(s) allowed.
    • By default, Canvas will assign the assignment to everyone in your course. See the group assignment tab for assigning to groups.
  5. You can add a due date for the assignment, which allows for late submissions. Alternatively, you can add availability dates and students will only be able to submit during this time frame, with no late submissions allowed.
  6. Click Save & Publish. You will be able to edit the assignment up until students start submitting.
  1. Before creating a group assignment, set up group sets for your Canvas course, if you haven’t already.
  2. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Assignments in the Course Navigation.
  3. Click the +Assignment blue button in the upper right side of the screen.
  4. Enter the assignment name and provide any instructions using the text editor.
  5. Indicate the number of points, the assignment group (i.e., the group of assignments this should belong to for grading purposes, if applicable), and submission type(s) allowed.
  6. Click the checkbox for “This is a Group Assignment”. You can assign an assignment to a group set (which contains multiple groups) or to a specific group in a group set:
    • To assign to a specific group, in the “Assign” area, click the x icon next to the “Everyone” label.
    • Start to type the name of the group in the “Assign to” field. Click the group’s name when it appears.
  7. You can add a due date for the assignment, which allows for late submissions. Alternatively, you can add availability dates and students will only be able to submit during this time frame, with no late submissions allowed.
  8. Click Save & Publish.
  9. A warning message will pop up indicating that not everyone will be assigned this item. Click Continue to confirm.

Tip #1:
You can let students submit links in addition to file uploads (including multimedia like images and videos) for their assignments.

Tip #2:
If your assignments are presentations, you can have students upload a pre-recorded video or present during a live class session.

Other specialty tools are supported at UBC for managing assignments, including tools that facilitate student peer assessments » aka peer review assignments.

Learn more about Canvas assignments » and Canvas group assignments »

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Set Up Assessments

Assessments can be facilitated online through your Canvas course. Canvas will always call your assessment a “quiz”, whether you want to assign a quiz or exam to your students, and you will use the Canvas Quiz tool to build your questions.

Create a Canvas assessment

  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Quizzes in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the +Quiz blue button in the upper right side of the screen.
  3. To create a quiz, choose the Classic Quizzes option and click Submit.
  4. In the Details tab, enter the name of your quiz. In the text editor, you can introduce your quiz.
  5. Set the quiz options, which include the following:
    • Quiz Type – Graded or Practice (ungraded)
    • Assignment Group – The group of assignments this quiz should belong to for grading purposes (if applicable)
    • Shuffle Answers – Randomize answers
    • Time Limit – Time allowed to complete the quiz
    • Allow Multiple Attempts – Allow more than one attempt at answering
    • Let Students See Their Quiz Responses – Show students what they answered and any feedback from you, immediately or at a later date
  6. You can add a due date for the quiz, which allows for late submissions. Alternatively, you can add availability dates, and students will only be able to submit during this time frame, with no late submissions allowed.
  7. Click Save. You are now ready to add questions to your quiz. Follow the steps below.

Tip:
For synchronous assessments and especially exams in large courses, stagger student start times to avoid overloading Canvas. For example, group students into blocks of 200 or less, with five minutes between the start time for each block.

Quizzes in Canvas can be used for graded or ungraded assessments. Creating a graded quiz automatically adds a column to your online Canvas Gradebook spreadsheet.

Learn more about Canvas quizzes »

Add questions to a Canvas assessment

  1. To add questions to an existing quiz, edit the quiz and click the Questions tab.
  2. Click +New Question.
  3. Select the question type from the drop-down menu.
  4. To set a point value for the question, enter the points.
  5. Enter the question text using the text editor.
  6. If applicable, add the answers for each question and select the correct answer by clicking it.
  7. Add any feedback to individual answers and/or the overall question.
  8. Click Update Question to save.
  9. Repeat the steps to add more questions. When you have finished, click Save & Publish at the bottom of the page.

Tip:
By default, grades in Canvas will be visible to students as soon as they complete an auto-graded quiz. If you want to control grade release instead, enable manual grade posting »

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Proctor Exams Asynchronously

In March 2021, the UBC Vancouver and Okanagan Senates passed motions to restrict the use of automated remote invigilation tools like Proctorio that use algorithmic analysis of data recorded during invigilation, except where accreditation bodies explicitly require remote proctoring software. You can read details of the Vancouver motion or details of the Okanagan motion to limit remote proctoring, and request exam support for other technologies and strategies from the Vancouver CTLT and Okanagan CTL.

Exams in your Canvas course can be remotely proctored with a tool called Proctorio. In place of a physical person in the room with your students, you can have Proctorio record their webcams, microphones, screens, and any websites they visit during the assessment for review by you and your teaching team.

If Proctorio is appropriate for your context in light of the Vancouver and Okanagan Senate motions, you can find more information on the Learning Technology Hub website:

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Invigilate Real-Time Exams

We do not recommend using Zoom with the assessment-support tool LockDown Browser. The tools were not designed to be used in coordination, and combining them can trigger challenging technical issues for a significant number of students. You can read about our recommendation against using Zoom with LockDown Browser for more.

Real-time exams can be invigilated during a Zoom web-conferencing session. You and your team can continuously or periodically monitor a live stream of all students’ webcams in breakout rooms and answer questions. You can also ask to see students’ individual screens and photo identification.

Schedule an exam with Zoom

  1. Before doing technical setup, decide who will be the host and co-hosts for the session. The host is the only person who can set up the session. The co-hosts are the other invigilators who, along with the host, can admit students from the waiting room and create, start, and monitor the breakout rooms.
  2. The host should modify a few default Zoom settings in their account before creating the invigilation session in Zoom. To do this, go to ubc.zoom.us/profile/setting and sign in.
  3. Click the Meeting tab at the top if it is not selected already and set the following:
    • Under “In Meeting (Basic)”, disable the “Private chat” toggle, so students cannot send private messages to one another.
    • Enable the “Always show meeting control toolbar” toggle, so the host and co-hosts have quick access to the meeting controls.
    • Disable the “Remote control” toggle, to prevent students from controlling each other’s shared screens.
    • Under “In Meeting (Advanced)”, disable the “Virtual background” toggle, so students cannot hide what is in their background.
  4. Next, the host should confirm their ability to schedule exams for the size of the course, by clicking Profile in the top, far left-hand menu of the Zoom website. If the number under “License” will not meet the needs of your course, contact av.helpdesk@ubc.ca to request additional support.
  5. Finally, the host should schedule the Zoom exam session, with exam-specific adjustments:
    • Click Schedule a Meeting at the top right of the Zoom website.
    • Enter in the topic, date, and add the following:
      • The start time – Set this at least 30 minutes before the actual exam start time.
      • The duration – Allow a 30-60 minute buffer, to give time for checking IDs and troubleshooting any technical difficulties.
      • A waiting room – Enable a waiting room to better control and know who joins the session and when.
    • Click Save. On the confirmation page, click Copy Invitation and copy from the pop-up window the lines for Join Zoom Meeting, Meeting ID, and Passcode.
    • Paste the session information wherever you are securely posting instructions for students about taking the exam. For example, in the instructions for the exam in Canvas.

Tip #1:
For large courses, stagger student start times to avoid overloading the tools. For example, group students into blocks of 200 or less, with five minutes between the start time for each block.

Tip #2:
Let your students know to join the exam session at least 15 minutes before their start time, to make sure everything is working and to give time for you to check their IDs.

Tip #3:
Tell students to send you the name they will use when joining the session, if they are not comfortable using their real name in Zoom and prefer to use an alias.

If you wish to use recording, know that only cloud recording is allowed and breakout rooms are not recommended for the invigilation, as recording within them comes with constraints.

Run an exam with Zoom

  1. The host should start the session 30 minutes before the official exam start time, and the co-hosts should join the meeting at least 20 minutes early. To start the session, open the Zoom application on your computer and sign in, if you haven’t already. Click the Meetings icon at the top, and click Start for the session.
    • The host and co-hosts should also join or have access to another space to communicate privately outside of Zoom, e.g., a channel in Microsoft Teams.
  2. The host should disable chatting class-wide in the main session, by clicking the Chat icon at the bottom of the Zoom desktop application, then clicking the three dots in the chat panel and selecting Host and co-hosts.
    • Students will still have the ability to chat with everyone in their breakout room, and co-hosts should keep an eye out for chat questions while in those rooms.
  3. The host needs to give the invigilators a co-host status in Zoom, by clicking the Participants icon, then hovering over each co-host’s name, clicking More, and selecting Make Co-Host.
  4. The host or a co-host can monitor students as they start joining, by clicking the Participants icon. If you are using a waiting room, use this icon to admit students individually or admit everyone at once.
  5. Once most of your students have joined the session, the host or a co-host can start the breakout rooms, with exam-specific adjustments. Click the Breakout Rooms icon at the bottom of your screen to assign students to breakout rooms.
    • Depending on the size of your screen, you may need to click More first to see this option.
  6. Select the number of rooms you would like to create and how you would like to assign your participants to those rooms:
    • Assign automatically: Zoom will split your students up evenly into each of the rooms.
    • Assign manually: You will choose which students are in each room.
    • Let participants choose room: You will set up empty rooms, and students will select one to join.
  7. Click Create. Your breakout rooms will be created but not yet open to students.
  8. Adjust your room settings as needed, including manually assigning students and renaming, adding, or deleting rooms.
    • Assigning co-hosts: Zoom does not evenly distribute co-hosts when automatically assigning rooms, so the host will need to make manual adjustments to ensure each room has a co-host.
  9. Click the options cog icon to manage settings for breakout rooms. Check the box for “Automatically move all assigned participants into breakout rooms” (so students don’t need to do anything additional to start their exam).
  10. When you are ready to start your breakout rooms, click Open All Rooms. All participants will be moved into their respective rooms.
  11. Once rooms are open and students in them, the host or a co-host can manually assign any latecomers by clicking the Participants icon, clicking the Assign To option next to the student’s name, and selecting the room.
  12. All invigilators can click Gallery View in the upper right corner of the Zoom desktop application to see multiple video feeds at once. Any video feeds that don’t fit will be displayed on additional pages.
  13. Take attendance and verify student IDs, if you haven’t already.
  14. Make sure students know where to access the exam (if they are not in it already), how to ask for help during the exam, when the exam will end, and what to do if they finish the exam early. Then ask students to go ahead with the exam.
  15. Once the exam has started, the invigilators will monitor for questions and academic integrity. The host and co-hosts will need to coordinate with each other using Teams (or another external communication point) to move themselves and their students in and out of breakout rooms.
  16. When the exam end is nearing, the host or a co-host can send messages with the time remaining to all the breakout rooms by clicking the Breakout Rooms icon and then clicking Broadcast Message to All. Co-hosts should also make a verbal announcement in the breakout rooms to ensure all students receive the message.
  17. When the exam is finished, the host or a co-host can click Close All Rooms to return students to the main session.

Tip #1:
Use your waiting room to control attendance and identity verification. A designated co-host can admit each student individually, mark them down, and ask to see their ID.

Tip #2:
Create an extra, empty breakout room to have a private space the host can move co-hosts and students in and out of, to accommodate anyone who wants to ask private questions or privately share their screen. This room can also be used to check student IDs.

Tip #3:
When verifying IDs, tell students to cover the first four digits of their student number to protect their privacy, especially if you are in a room where other students can see.

You can download a class list with photo identifications from the Faculty Service Centre, if your class is too big to recognize students on sight.

More information on using Zoom

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Consider Other Alternatives to In-Person Exams

Other alternatives to in-person exams let students demonstrate their learning without the additional stress and privacy concerns that may come with being monitored on camera and taking an exam at home.

Suggestions beyond remote proctoring

Open-book exam with integrity pledge

  1. Restructure your questions knowing that students will have access to course materials and the Internet.
  2. Set up an exam following the steps for creating an assessment in Canvas.
  3. As the first question, ask students to agree to an integrity pledge. You can use example language developed by UBC’s Faculty of Science:

Closed-book exam with integrity pledge and timing gates

  1. Restructure your exam into smaller subsets of questions, creating a number of “mini-exams”. This approach will enable you to apply a variation on time pressure to reduce the feasibility of using outside resources.
  2. Set up the mini-exams following the steps for creating an assessment in Canvas, making a separate assessment for each one. Place time constraints so only one mini-exam is open at a time.
  3. As the first question, ask students to agree to an integrity pledge as well as to not use any outside resources. See the example language above.

Alternative learning activity

  1. Consider your most important learning objectives for the course and how else students might demonstrate their mastery. Examples might include the following:
    • Assignments submitted online like case studies, essays, concept maps, annotated bibliographies, videos, portfolios, etc.
    • Presentations given to you or the whole class online
    • Discussions with peers on discussion boards
  2. Once you’ve picked an activity, follow the relevant steps:

Oral exams

  1. If your class size is manageable and your course context allows, construct a shorter oral exam.
  2. Set up an online time with each individual student to meet privately.

Tip #1:
Keep in mind that you don’t have to pick one approach and could offer students options for what they can do remotely in place of an in-person exam.

Tip #2:
If you use an integrity pledge, explain its language and purpose beforehand to give students the opportunity to ask questions.

Tip #3:
With whatever approach you take, remember UBC’s commitment to accommodate students with disabilities » and keep in mind accessibility best practices » as well as issues introduced by distance learning, like students in different time zones.

Learn more in UBC’s alternatives to in-person exams guide »

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Learn more

Contact the Learning Technology Hub for hands-on assistance:
604 827 4775 | LT.hub@ubc.ca | LIVE Online Support (Mon-Fri 9:00-4:30)


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