Hello Everyone -
Below you will see a list of tutorials and best practices for both building and taking Blackboard exams. If you ever experience any issues with students taking your Blackboard exams please report these problems asap to either Matt Long (firstname.lastname@example.org), Cindy Bowers (email@example.com), or Allen Dennis (firstname.lastname@example.org). When reporting these issues please include the following:
- Course ID
- Test location and name
- Student email ID
- Symptoms (behavior/details, browser, PC or Mac)
If we cannot figure out the exact reason of your exam failure we will report this issue to Blackboard for more investigation and troubleshooting.
Keep in mind exam failures can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as wireless network, local computer problems, third party software running in the background, exam content (rare but does happen sometimes), and/or exam settings (see below for more information).
Test Creation Information and Best Practices
- Assignment Tool (creates link for students) – download the PDF
- Creating and Deploying Tests – download the PDF
- Creating a Test From a Pool – download the PDF
- Test-Taking Troubleshooting Tips for Instructors – download the PDF
- Test-Taking Tips for Students – Share with Students — download the PDF
- Respondus LockDown Browser - read the blog post for information
- Rubrics with Assessments – download the PDF
Browser Info: Reminder: Blackboard works best using Firefox as the browser (for Macs also); please remind your students. The gradebook is especially noticeable (slow, not working properly) if you are using IE instead of Firefox. See Blackboard’s recommended browsers.
Blackboard Test/Exam Failure Avoidance: Best Practices
The suggestions below come directly from Blackboard technical support. Exams with a high rate of failure may have some of the following characteristics:
- Avoid creating large exams involving many and/or complex questions and presented all at once.
- 50 questions is a lot of questions. SOLUTION - break up larger exams into smaller exams taken in a sequence vs. one large exam.
- Large exams also create much more server load when submitting the final exam, which can lead to failures due to application overload when groups of users submit at the same time. SOLUTION – Stagger exam submission times when possible.
- Train users to save their attempt every 10-15 minutes (but avoid too-frequent saves, which may overload the application). SOLUTION - train student to use the “SAVE ALL” option during an exam every 5-7 minutes if they are in the middle of working on a problem.
- *Avoid randomized display order for exams using question-by-question (one at a time) display. SOLUTION – None. Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the test being given.
- *When using random selection of questions from pools, keep the overall exam especially short. SOLUTION – None. Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the exam being given.
*Regarding pools and randomizing questions: If you are using a Random Block of questions for a given exam be sure NOT to use the “Randomize Display” option. This is not helpful and definitely puts unwanted strain on the Blackboard assessment engine.
In summary, the above suggestions are a best-practices roadmap to making better and more reliable exams. All of these features have been used by hundreds of ECU faculty for many years. With confidence, we can say that the large majority of Blackboard exams are submitted/completed without incident. The suggestions listed will be most helpful for those that are having consistent issues with student test completions.
As always, if you have any questions please call or email Matt Long, Cindy Bowers, or Allen Dennis.