Message to Faculty - Resources for Final Examination Concerns

Posted on May 5, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Since instruction became virtual, faculty have raised concerns about academic misconduct particularly as it relates to examinations. As we move into final exams, please reach out to our outstanding colleagues in the Center for Faculty Excellence for best practices and assistance. They have many resources on their Continuity Teaching Resources page at: http://fresnostate.edu/academics/cfe/continuity/index.html

A few things we encourage you to keep in mind:

When possible, replace exams with other take-home assessments

  • Alternate assessment types include: writing prompts, papers, projects, problem sets, case scenarios, open-ended questions, and reflections that rely on course material/lectures that cannot be readily searched online.
  • These assessments also:
    • Rely less heavily on a stable, high-speed Internet connection.
    • Do not require instructor-mandated allotments of uninterrupted time.
    • Do not force instructors and students to engage with unfamiliar testing and/or proctoring technology.

If necessary to require online exams

  • Make the exam asynchronous, with adequate time to log-in and complete the exam, as students may now be in different time zones across the world.
  • Make the exam manageable in terms of time. If a long exam is required, break it into smaller parts that can be taken over shorter amounts of time.
    • Students may have familial obligations that preclude them from being able to devote 2-3 hours to one sitting to take an uninterrupted exam.
    • Students may have technology disruptions and difficulties with longer exams.
  • In a non-proctored environment, make the exam open-book, open-note, and open-Internet, as students will be able to access these throughout an online exam.
  • Instructors should develop exams that encourage students to demonstrate mastery of concepts rather than content that students can verify through a quick search.
  • Ensure that online exam questions do not require students to enter complex formulas or diagrams within format-limiting textboxes, which takes more time online than on paper. By doing so, students may focus on formatting over content.
  • Allow multiple attempts to save students/faculty time in requesting and then resetting the exam.

Do Not Require Unfamiliar Testing and/or Proctoring Technology

  • Students will need to familiarize themselves with the platform on the fly, directing time and attention away from the exam.
  • Students may have difficulty accessing the product, may not have technology that is compatible with the software, may have privacy concerns, and/or the lockdown software may not be compatible with other software needed for SSD accommodations.
  • Downloading software may violate institutional policies by entering into a software contract on behalf of your institution and may cause unforeseen IT issues.
  • As with all subscriptions, it is easy toforget to cancel a free trial.
  • Software services may require access to student data, which students should not need to submit in order to succeed in their courses.

Create an Academic Integrity Contract with Students

  • Outline your definition of what constitutes academic integrity, clarify expectations/standards, and how these will be upheld for the final exam.
  • Outline consequences for violations of academic integrity (e.g. "Because academic integrity is fundamental to the University and the work we are doing together in this classroom, I am professionally and ethically responsible for reporting any violations of academic integrity. I will give a 0 on the assignment/exam in question and the University may issue other consequences.”)
  • Consider asking the student to sign the contract to ensure that the student reads/understands academic integrity before going into the final examination.
  • Identify students’ responsibility if they are aware or suspect violations of academic integrity (e.g. “If you are aware of any behaviors that violate academic integrity, please be responsible and bring these actions to my attention immediately.”

Other resources can be found at:

From EAB: 

Constructing exams in a non-proctored environment 

Remote Instruction Resource Center

Thank each of you for your work in providing a quality education to our students during these extraordinary times.

Xuanning Fu, Ph.D., Interim Vice Provost