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Academic Council has granted flexibility for instructors to continue to refine course expectations, explaining that instructors may “modify course expectations such that required work is reduced or grading schemes are adjusted provided they can still meet course learning objectives.” Some UO faculty and GEs are re-imagining how to assess student learning considering the fact that UO will not administer proctored exams this term and in light their developing sense of students’ needs and our available remote teaching tools. This may mean testing in Canvas while preserving exam integrity—or moving away from exams entirely and toward creative alternatives aligned with instructors’ course goals. 

TEP and UO Online hosted a workshop to brainstorm alternatives to proctored exams, including ideas and resources for how exams in Canvas can be designed and administered. You can view a recording of the April 13, 2020 Alternative Assessments workshop.


Alternatives to moving your traditional exam online

Assign a presentation 

  • Students could present to the class via a Zoom meeting or, for an asynchronous class, submit a recording of the presentation. The latter might be in the form of a TED-talk-style video or a simpler recording of the presentation made with Zoom or voice-over Power Point. A lower-tech option is to have students provide a written script of the presentation they would give, complete with intended gestures, notes about emphasis, and other stage directions. 

Create a poster (and audio talk-through) or pamphlet (individually or in groups) 

  • Students could use PowerPoint to create the poster, then submit it via an assignment in Canvas.  You could require peer review of the posters by selecting the appropriate box in the Peer Review section when you create the Assignment in Canvas. Provide a detailed rubric to guide both poster creation and the peer review. 

Create an infographic or children’s picture book about a course topic (individually or in groups) 

  • Infographics can be made for free on sites like Canva, Visme, and Piktochart. Students can create a pdf of their infographic and submit it via an assignment in Canvas. A helpful guide to infographic creation is here. 
  • Students could submit scans or photos of the picture book pages via an assignment in Canvas. 
  • Alternatively, students could attach their files to posts in a Canvas discussion board, then be required to view and comment on or write about at least two other students’ work by posting replies to the original posts. 
  • Students might also submit a short reflective paper describing the process they used to create the infographic or book.  The paper would address how and why they chose the topic they did, the research they carried out, and what they learned from the process. 

Administer short oral exams  

  • Create a list of topics covered in the course and have all students be prepared to explain any of the topics in two-five minutes. 
  • Randomly assign topics to students, allow them a few minutes to gather their thoughts, and then Zoom or call to respond or have them upload an audio or video recording to canvas.  
  • Give students a list of possible oral exam questions and allow them to use notes and other resources to prepare responses for each. In a Zoom or phone interview with the instructor, each student has five minutes to respond orally to one question chosen at random. 

Write about a topic to multiple audiences 

  • Have students write a typical essay as well as an explanation to a non-expert audience (op-ed, newspaper, or magazine level audience).
    Sample Op-Ed Exam and Rubric here

Workshop Slides on Alternative Assessments

Develop a Class Contribution the Undergraduate Research Symposium


Getting more from exam questions  

  • Ask conceptual short answer questions, e.g. “explain why this step is necessary…”, “what assumptions are you making and why?  
  • Identify an error in an already worked problem in a class that uses quantitative analysis, such as a math, statistics, or physics course.   
  • Have students show their work when producing an answer to a computational question (they can upload a photo or pdf; check in about their access to this technology). 
  • Have students explain their answer to one of your traditional multiple choice questions via a Zoom or phone call, or a video upload. This allows you to still use the multiple choice questions you have prepared in the past, but use fewer questions and achieve a deeper dive into student understanding for assessment. 
  • Build buy-in by having students propose exam questions and using them in the exam. Offer them guidance to help them revise them and/or extra credit for writing a question that gets used. 

Administering traditional multiple-choice exams in Canvas

  • Ask students to attest to the integrity of their work at the start of the exam. (Here’s how one instructor does this.
  • Pose formula questions with a single variable that changes for each student. (Here’s how.) 
  • Ask questions that require deep thinking and application of information to select the answer, as opposed to memorization (e.g.: clinical case studies, imaginary world scenarios). 
  • Create a large bank of questions and set Canvas to randomly select questions for each student. (Here’s how to create a bank; here’s how to use the bank in a quiz/exam.)   
  • Prevent students from seeing the correct answers until after everyone has taken the exam (exam due date).**You may be interested in TEP and UO Online’s complete guide to Exams in Canvas.


    We look forward to brainstorming together. Whatever options you select, we can help every step of the way to create solutions the work for your class!