D2L - In-class Online Exam Strategies

Last Updated: 08/10/2018


Refer to the information provided below if you are interested in strategies for in-class online exams (students take the exam in the physical classroom).

Logistical Aspects of the Exams

Using Student Laptops for Online Exams

Typically 90-95% of students are willing to bring a laptop to class for the exam, but it is likely that you will have some students who are not able to bring a laptop. To get an estimate for your class, you can ask students if they can bring a laptop to the exam via a Google Form, short D2L Quiz, a clicker question (if you are using clickers) or simply a show-of-hands.

You can reserve a computer lab for those students who do not have the ability to bring a laptop to the exam. You can reserve a lab using the OIT Lab Request form or find an available lab in your department.

Charging Stations for Student Laptops

Some students might need to charge their laptops during the exam. If your classroom has very few electrical outlets, you can use power cords to provide more plugins. Currently, OIT does not provide power cords, but your department might be able to provide some. We recommend placing them along the walls or in the back of the room so that students walking in the aisles don’t trip on them.

Wireless Capacity Issues  

Wireless capacity varies from classroom to classroom and might be an issue if you are teaching a large class. We recommend that you test the wireless capacity in your classroom by having all the students load a YouTube video at the same time. Even if the video loads for everyone, students might still experience issues with wireless connection during the exam.

How to troubleshoot wireless issues during the exam:

  • Issue 1: A student cannot get online at the beginning of the exam.
    • Solution 1: A student needs to login into UCB Wireless in the location of the exam. They can try closing and reopening their browser and the network login window should appear.
    • Solution 2:  A student can connect to UCB Guest network, which doesn’t require a login.
    • Solution 3:  A student can restart the computer.
  • Issue 2: Students cannot save exam questions or submit their exam.
    • Solution 1: Have students turn on and off Wi-Fi on their laptops and then click on any of the blue question icons in their exam. This usually repairs the connection issue.
    • Solution 2: If solution 1 doesn’t work, a student can open a new internet browser and try accessing the exam from there (just don’t close the initial browser with all the exam responses). Then a student can copy any unsaved answers over to the new browser window.

Other tips related to wireless connection:

  • Remind students to save questions in their exams frequently (in the D2L Quiz tool, there is a Save button after each question) so that they don’t lose any work in case of a wireless connection issue.
  • Ask students to turn on Airplane Mode on their other devices that use wireless (e.g. smartphone) to decrease the network load.

Preparing Students for Taking an Online Exam

It is likely that some of your students have never taken a quiz or an exam online. You can have students take a Pre-Exam Practice Quiz to get familiarized with the D2L Quizzes tool and the process of taking an exam online. The Pre-Exam Practice Quiz could contain information that students need to know about the exam. For example, you can communicate to students that they need to turn on airplane mode on their extra wireless devices to improve network connectivity during the exam. Refer to the Pre-Exam Practice Quiz sample for guidance.

Suggestions for creating a Pre-Exam Practice Quiz:

  • Make the Pre-Exam Practice Quiz required. You can enforce the requirement by limiting access to the exam using the Release Conditions feature in D2L - you can set a condition for the exam to be visible only to those students who complete and/or get a certain score on the Pre-Exam Practice Quiz.
  • Set a deadline for the Pre-Exam Practice Quiz to be completed a few days before the exam.
  • Consider giving students some small amount of points for completing the quiz.
  • Display all the information that students need to remember in a Text Information field on the first page of the quiz, and have all the questions on the second page of the quiz.
  • Allow at least two attempts for the Pre-Exam Practice Quiz. The goal is to get students to review the information about the exam, and some might need an additional attempt to familiarize themselves with the content.

Academic Honesty and Related D2L Settings

Most of the D2L Quiz settings that we are referring to in this section are explained in the Create a Quiz tutorial.

  • Provide students with a CU Honor Code statement on the Start page of the exam. You can place it in the Description field on the Quiz Properties tab or add a quiz question using the Academic Honesty Quiz Question Tutorial.
    • Sample statement: “When you click on Start Quiz below, you agree to honor the pledge: ‘On my honor, as a University of Colorado-Boulder student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this work.’ ”
  • Make a D2L Quiz password protected (see Optional Advanced Restrictions on the Restrictions tab) and announce the password in the classroom a minute or two before the exam starts. Use a different password for each exam.
  • Randomize the order of the questions. You can also create a large bank of questions and have multiple versions of the exam  (e.g. you can have 100 questions in the pool and have D2L pull 20 random questions out of the 100 total questions for each student).
  • Randomize answer options in each question (look for the Randomize Options checkbox in the question settings).  Watch out for answers like “All of the above”.
  • Add bright lines of color between questions of the exam to make it easier for those proctoring the exam see when a student navigates away from the exam page. Change the color of the lines for each exam. You can add the lines at the beginning of each Question Text field when creating the questions.
  • Use Submission View settings to determine what students see after they complete an exam. Use a Default Submission View for the duration of the exam to prevent students from sharing correct answers with each other and schedule an Additional View with correct answers to become active after the grades are released.
  • Add a unique picture to the Default Submission View (in the Message Field of the Submission View settings (see Step 2 of the Set Quiz Submission View tutorial) use the Insert Image option) and require students to show that picture to the instructor or TA before leaving the classroom, to make sure they submit the exam before leaving. Use a different picture for each exam.
  • You can also ask students to show you their Buff One Card when they are leaving the classroom and write down the last few digits of their card number, so that you have a record of who was in the classroom during the exam just in case any academic honesty issues arise. If you are teaching a large class, you can use card readers similar to those used in the C4C and the Rec Center to streamline the process of recording student data. You can purchase the card readers at the BuffOne Card Office.
  • Use the Create Bonus Points and Mandatory Questions in Quizzes tutorial to require students to answer specific questions. 

Grading Online Exams

A major benefit of doing automatically graded online exams is that students can get timely access to their exam results and instructors can quickly adjust student grades if they find any of the exam questions are confusing or otherwise defective. The Question Details tab in the Quiz Statistics provides instructors with the distribution of answers for each multiple choice question and based on these results instructors can make a decision to throw out some of the questions from the exam. Then instructors can assign an equal amount of points to all the answer options to counteract the negative effect of the question on student exam scores.

I have two sections of a course that need to take the same exam at different times. What is the easiest way to copy the exam?

The easiest way is to copy the exam using “Copy Quiz” option and use Release Conditions to make the exam available only to the specific sections. But having two copies of the exam will also require two separate grade items. The Release Condition could be applied to the grade items as well. Put the two grade items into a category and set it to drop the lowest grade item to only include one of the exams in the students’ grade.

How can I give students who need a special accommodation more time to complete the exam?

You can use Special Access Permissions to set different availability dates and times for specific students.

I need students to see some information or instructions throughout the exam (e.g. Periodic table in a Chemistry exam). How can I add that information to a D2L Quiz?

If your exam has only one page, you can simply add a Text Information question type at the beginning of the quiz. If your exam has multiple pages, you can place that information in the Quiz Header (located on the Properties tab of the Quiz settings).

How can students take notes during an online exam?

You can add a long-answer question type at the beginning and/or end of the quiz for students to take notes. Mark those question as bonus questions (go to the Edit Values menu in the Quiz Questions area) so that it’s not included in the exam results. Another option is to provide students with blank sheets of paper for note taking.

Can students use a tablet for online exams?

Tablets have various limitations and their screens are not easy to see for those proctoring the exam. We recommend using only laptops for online exams.

Is there an exam template that I can use?

No, currently there is no exam template available in D2L, but you can create your own template. Simply create a quiz with all the desired exam settings (without questions) and copy this template every time you need to create a new exam. You will only need to update time restrictions, questions, and the submission view release time.