- Online Exams
- Deferred Term Work
Detailed information about Carleton’s course evaluation policy is available in section 5 (Regulations) of the undergraduate and graduate calendars. Of note is Carleton’s early feedback guideline. Wherever possible, and especially in first- and second-year courses, instructors are urged to include in the course schedule academic work that will be assigned, evaluated, and returned prior to the 25th teaching day of each term. All instructors are urged to do this prior to the 40th teaching day of each term.
Course outlines should clearly indicate when the first graded piece of work will be returned to students. In cases where a course does not lend itself to early feedback, this should be clearly noted on the course outline.
Online tests, quizzes and midterms have many benefits, including convenience and an environmentally friendly nature. Assessments are graded automatically and reusable from year to year.
The following options are now available for examinations:
- Fixed Exam: The exam occurs online, in Brightspace, and has a set start and end time as displayed on the schedule—e.g. the traditional three-hour exam.
- Fixed within Range Exam: The period of time students have to write the exam is shorter than the period of time that the exam is open—e.g. students are given a three–day period to write the exam, but the exam is only three hours in duration.
- Range Exam: The exam must be completed within a range of time and will be open for the entire range of time as displayed on the schedule. These are take-home exams that deviate from the practice of being distributed on the last day of the class, and due the last day of the exam period.
Please note that take-home (range) exams that deviate from the normative practice will be scheduled by Scheduling and Exam Services (SES), but course instructors will be able to indicate the window required (e.g. students have X days to complete the exam). SES will assign the specific date and time based on the specifications.
Your departmental administrator is responsible for communicating details about exam dates and deadlines. For all scheduled exams, instructors will need to provide SES with a copy and/or a link to the item in Brightspace itself (i.e., a Quiz or Assignment) by the indicated deadline.
Remember, if you have any questions or would like assistance, we can help you go from paper-based assessments to an online version.
For post-March 2020 courses, it is advisable to deliver Fixed exams during the course’s assigned day and time to ensure students are available, regardless of whether the course is offered synchronously, asynchronously, or in a blended format. Alternatively, consider having an extended window to complete the exam (I.e., a Fixed within Range Exam).
You are responsible for a number of tasks when it comes to exams, including:
- Creating the exam (except in exceptional circumstances, such as if you are teaching one of several sections of the same course and the in-term exams are pre-determined).
- Making the exam available to students at the designated time (e.g., in Brightspace).
- Ensuring the exam does not exceed the time allotted for the class.
- Making any special accommodations students may require (e.g. time extension, alternate format), such as for disabilities or technical limitations.
- Including a statement in the exam about academic integrity and rules for the assessment (e.g. open book). Avoid statements about penalties; instead, commit to following up on academic misconduct out of respect for all students.
- Setting a policy and procedure for missed exams. This policy should be clearly written in the course outline. It is a good idea to draft an alternate make-up exam with a clear policy for what happens if both exams are missed. Consult this resource for strategies to rethink your assessment.
- Providing students the opportunity to review their exams so they can identify strengths and weaknesses in their understanding and performance. For example, you can return the exams to students, review them together in a private session, and/or dedicate class time to a whole-class review.
Once all students have submitted their exam, grades should be released in Brightspace. This protects your students’ privacy as per the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Never post student numbers, names, and/or grades in any public way. Post only grades for individual assignments: the default setting for the final grade column is “hidden” and it should be left as is.
There are a number of factors you should consider when setting up your online exam:
- Prior to exam day (and ideally earlier), clearly communicate to your students what to expect from the exam. For example, how long they will have to complete the exam, how many and what type of questions are included, and so on.
- Provide different versions of the exam to each student by shuffling the exam questions/answers and pulling questions from a question bank. For information on these subjects, consult the Brightspace support site for instructors.
- Consider alternative assessment methods. For ideas, consult the Options for Online Assessment page.
The turn-around time for submitting final grades is 10 calendar days from the date of the exam. You can find the deadlines for your courses in Carleton Central under “E-Grades.” Since all exams must now be held online, using (some) automatically graded multiple-choice questions may help you with quicker grading.
Accommodations for PMC students need to be considered. The PMC, working with SES, normally handles arrangements for accommodations for PMC students. If needed, for online time-restricted exams, durations can be adjusted easily for individual students.
Students who do not attempt their scheduled final exam should be referred to the Registrar’s Office to apply for a deferral. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for grading the deferred exam and will be given the option to set a new exam. If a student knows ahead of time that they cannot make the final exam and you are satisfied that their reason is valid (if unsure, check with your chair/director), you can re-schedule it to occur before the formally scheduled exam date.
Departments usually allow students to review their final exam up to a year after the course ends. For that reason, do not delete past Brightspace courses for at least a year after they have ended in the event that your department chair requests access to the exams.
Take-home exams are generally assigned on or before the last day of classes and are due on the last day of the official examination period. Take-home exams that do not follow this normal practice (i.e., Range exams) must be formally scheduled by Scheduling and Exam Services and are subject to overload rules, as per Reg 4.1 of the undergraduate calendar.
Clear guidelines and expectations about take-home exams must be communicated to students (e.g. word limits, guidelines about consultation with each other, and how much external material they are expected to use).
Reg. 4.4 of the undergraduate calendar indicates that if a student is unable to complete a significant term assignment late in the term because of illness or other circumstances beyond their control, it may be necessary to delay the due date beyond the deadline for reporting final grades. In this case, the student may contact their instructor and request an alternate arrangement.
Wherever possible, both during the term and after, concerns about the grading of student work should be settled informally between the student and the instructor. As a result of this informal appeal process, the original grade may be raised, lowered or left unchanged.
If the issue cannot be settled informally, the student may submit a formal appeal of grade through the Registrar’s Office. For details, please see Reg. 3.3.4 of the undergraduate calendar.
You may use Brightspace to post your course work grades. For final grades, you must use E-Grades (accessible through Carleton Central). Training on E-Grades is available through the Registrar’s Office at select times of the year. Find out more about entering grades here. More information about Brightspace and E-Grades can be found in the Computing for Instructors section of this website.
Before you set your tests/exams and grade assignments in your course, it is best to ask your chair or director and a few faculty members what the grading and distribution standards in your academic unit are. Whether you agree with the standards or not (philosophically or practically), it is better to know about these standards before you are called by the dean’s office to explain your grading.
Carleton’s Grading System
You determine the grades in your course, but they are subject to approval and adjustment by your chair/director and faculty dean. All final grades at Carleton are letter grades. The most fair approach to grading is to record term work as number grades, calculate final grades and then translate those numbers to letter grades before submitting them. The letter and 12-point grade system used at Carleton can be found in the undergraduate calendar.
Systematically adjusting student grades on course work or final grades is discouraged in some faculties and endorsed in others. If you are going to systematically adjust grades, you must indicate this in your course outline. You may be asked to make adjustments to final grades if your chair/director or dean feel the distribution signals a problem (e.g. assessment was too hard or too easy). Discuss the situation openly with your chair/director. If you have a reason for a grade adjustment, communicate it. Discuss a possible solution and be sure you understand how grades will be adjusted.
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