Exams present a significant challenge online because of the combination of high-stakes and difficulty of ensuring that exam rules are followed. Students who otherwise adhere closely to course expectations sometimes resort to academic integrity violations in online exam settings. Nonetheless, exams are an important assessment tools in some courses. If you do use exams in your course, they should be one among several methods of assessing students. 

There is no foolproof system to prevent students from cheating in an online exam. As you consider how to administer your exams, avoid options that place a lot of additional stress on your students or disadvantage students who have less high-powered computers or internet connections. 

Open-Book Exams

For exams where problem solving and critical thinking are more important than recall or understanding of facts or concepts, open-book exams may be a solution. Exams can still be limited in time, although allowing a bit of a grace period can be useful in case of technical difficulties. These exams can be administered using Canvas Quizzes. Canvas Quizzes allow you to set a window in which students may take the exam and a length for the exam. The exams can use a range of different question types or can provide the students with a document or template that they complete and upload. 

Because there generally won't be live proctors of whom students can ask questions during the exam, you'll want to make sure that you have a plan for what to do if it's clear that students as a whole didn't interpret a question in the way you intended. Pre-running your exams is always important, but it's even more critical when students won't have the opportunity to ask for clarifications during the exam.

Closed-Book Exams

The recommended method to hold a closed-book, proctored exam is to do so using Canvas and Zoom. The method is deceptively simple: 

  • Proctor students in Zoom breakouts, having them show their workspace on camera.
  • Have students provide their own paper, handwrite their exam, and scan and upload with their phone.

This method is less demanding on student computer processors and internet bandwidth than other online proctoring systems, so it results in fewer technical issues. It is also a better safeguard against cheating than many alternatives because students are not simultaneously on their computers and you can intervene in real time if needed. 

See the OUE detailed guide to administering proctored exams with Canvas and Zoom.