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Blackboard Learn's Tests and Survey features provide a basic method to build online assessments using different question types, the ability to import question pools, and the ability to manage testing and feedback options. Blackboard separates the processes of creating and deploying a test into two different stages: creation and deployment. The following tips and recommendations are made for test creation and test deployment (items such as test availability and test presentation) and student experience tips to help with test taking and submission.

Test Delivery

The following tips apply to test creation and settings.

Test Naming

It's recommended to title each quiz or exam with a unique identifying name. For example, instead of Test 1, use a topic or chapter-based name. When you are creating the test, remember the description and test instructions will be viewed by students taking the exam. If you are making a copy of an exam to accommodate students with disabilities, you should never include the name of the student or the disability in the test name.

Blackboard Learn Timeout

The Bb Learn server activity timeout is 60 minutes, which means that if the system detects no user activity for an hour, it logs the student out. This may affect an exam of greater than 60 minutes containing long essay questions, as the server doesn't record typing in an essay as "activity" (the Save as Draft button will reset this timer). Saving the answer to a multiple-choice question does restart the timeout period, avoiding this problem.

Setting a Test Time Limit

Setting a time limit for the test does not actually prevent the student from taking extra time to complete the test; it only notifies the instructor that the student exceeded the time limit.

Use Set time limit + auto-submit to automatically submit the test when the time is up.

Test Availability Options

Make the Link Available: When deploying a test in a content area it is necessary to make the link available. Blackboard Learn will not make the test available unless this is selected. It is recommended to make the link available and then limit the time it is available by selecting Display After and Display Until date/time restrictions. A test which is available but limited by a Display After date and time is not visible to students until the opening date and time. If you choose to make the link unavailable, a Display After date setting will not make the test visible to students; it must be available.

Add a New Announcement for this Test: This will immediately send an announcement regarding this test to the students in the class. Do not select this option if the test is to be made available at some point in the future. If you return in the future and select this option, a new announcement will be sent at that time.

Multiple Attempts: If the instructor allows students to make multiple attempts on a test, the default is that Blackboard Learn will use the last score in calculating the student's course grade. However, the instructor can choose which score to use (the first attempt, last attempt, highest grade, lowest grade, or an average of all attempts) by visiting the Grade Center, select the test's grade column menu, and click on Edit Column Settings.

Force Completion: This option will submit the test, even if incomplete, if a student navigates away from the test to another web page or closes their browser.

A practical recommendation to prevent students from being "locked out" due to accidental page navigations or network disruption is to not force completion of the test. This step will allow them to log back in and finish. If the timer is set and the auto-submit is on, the student has until the timer runs out regardless of how much time they spend logged in or out of the test.

Set Timer: You can set a timer to limit the time students have to take the test. By default, Bb Learn does not force the submission of a timed test but instead gives a warning as to how much time is left. The timer starts the first time the test is launched and if the student leaves the test for any reason the clock continues counting down. If the student goes over the allotted time they will not get an automatic score. Instead the attempt will appear in the Needs Grading view of the Grade Center, allowing the instructor to determine the score and accept the attempt. If the Auto-Submit option option is selected, the test will be automatically submitted and is set to Needs Grading.

Display After and Display Until: This setting allows you to establish a window of time when the test is available and visible for students to begin the test. A student may begin the test in the last few minutes it is available, but the student will get the full time limit to complete the test.

Password: You can set a password for a test. It is most often used at CSU Chico to deliver face-to-face proctored tests, where the faculty member gives the password at the start of the test.

Test Availability Exceptions

The most common uses for test availability exceptions (formerly done using Adaptive Release) are:

  • Allow disabled students to have a longer time limit for their test
  • Allow a particular student to have more than one attempt on the test
  • Permit particular students to take the test at an alternate time to accommodate an absence

Tutorial: Accommodating students who require modified test options like extra time or alternate days.

Due Date

Adding a Due Date to the test adds it to the Calendar. The assessment item in the Calendar can be clicked to take a student directly to the assessment.

Self-Assessment Options

Include this Test in Grade Center Score Calculations: By default, test scores are included in grade center calculations. Un-check this box if this is a practice test or self-assessment; the instructor can still view the students' scores.

Hide Results for this Test Completely from Instructor and the Grade Center: If it is not necessary to view student scores on a practice exam, selecting this option hides those scores from the instructor and prevents the scores from being calculated in the Grade Center.

Show Test Results and Feedback to Students

There are two places the faculty can give feedback or comments on a test: overall comments can be added when grading the attempts, and question-specific feedback can be added when questions are created. Score displays the student's points earned per question. Submitted Answers shows the student how they responded to each question. Correct Answers shows the student the right response. Feedback can show students the feedback recorded for auto-graded questions.

If you are concerned about revealing correct answers before the entire class has completed the test, select Score only and then return to the Test Option area once all students have taken the test to select other more detailed feedback options.

If you intend to reuse these questions in a future test or future semester, you may wish to limit the amount of time the correct answers are available to students.

Test Presentation

Presentation Mode: All at Once or One at a Time. Delivering an assessment all at once will show all questions on single web page. Selecting one at a time allows questions to be delivered with the option of allowing backtracking, or moving to any question at any time.

If you have concerns about students working together on a test, the most restrictive setting would be to show only one question at a time and disallow backtracking.

Randomize Questions: Selecting this option will randomize the order of questions given to each student. If you want questions within the exam to be randomly selected from a larger set of questions making it unlikely that any two exams will be identical, develop a larger pool of questions and use the Question Set function when you create the test, pulling in questions from that pool. Read more about question sets.

Student Experience Tips

Technical Problems: You should strongly suggest that your students contact the ITSS Help Desk immediately if they encounter any technical problems during the test so that ITSS can help them solve the issue or at least document the problem.