Preparation Makes All the Difference
Chances are no one at the University of Pennsylvania needs to be reminded that final exams start Monday, May 2nd and end Tuesday, May 10th, at least not at the Penn Libraries, where we’re seeing many students prepare for their exams. While there’s always a palpable undercurrent of anxiety involved in exam prep, it’s also true that the dedication to learning students display during this time of year is nothing short of inspirational, and it’s this positive aspect of the reading period on which I’d like to focus. Seeing students so devoted to doing their best on exams, I thought it would be useful for instructors, TAs, and staff who are prepping their finals this week to receive some tips for ensuring that everything goes smoothly when it’s exam time, hence the following final exam “dos” and “don’ts.”
- Do publish your exam in Canvas before exam time. Please click on this link for instructions on how to publish you exam: How do I use Draft State in Quizzes?
- Do ask your students to use supported browsers if they are taking the exam on their own devices. If they don’t and lose their internet connect while taking your exam, their responses won’t be backed up, as the capture mechanism for responses doesn’t work with unsupported browsers. Please share this list of supported browsers with students before they take the exam so they can see it if they need to update their browsers to a version Canvas supports: Which browsers does Canvas support?
- Do have your students make sure that their devices meet the basic computer requirements for Canvas to avoid any unexpected issues. For more information, please see: What are the basic computer specifications for Canvas?
- Do talk to your Local Support Provider (LSP) before giving a Canvas exam in an on-campus building to make sure that the room you’re using has the technological configuration and capacity to support all of your students taking the exam at once. An LSP would know, for example, if the Wi-Fi in a building is strong enough to support multiple users accessing the exam simultaneously. If you don’t have your LSP’s contact information, please see: Faculty and Staff Support Directory
- Do tell your students to clear the cache of whatever browser they’re using before logging into Canvas if they’re taking an exam in an on-campus computer lab, on a device borrowed through an on-campus service, or on another Canvas-user’s device (e.g., a friend’s). Please share these cache-clearing instructions with your students before they take your exam: How do I clear my browser cache on a Mac? and How do I clear my browser cache on a PC?
- Do use the Test Student to take your exam before releasing it to students. Doing this will show you if the exam has been set up correctly and will show you how students will interact with your exam. For more information on using the Test Student, please see: What is Student View? and How do I access Student View?
- Don’t save answer keys in your Canvas site before students take the exam. If you want students to have access to an answer key, add it to Canvas after they take the exam, or share it with them through some other safe means after the exam.
- Don’t make your “Until” availability date, if you’re using one, the same as your due date. Rather, give a 5-minute window between the due date and “Until” date (e.g., if a due date is 5/4 at 5:00pm, make the “Until” date 5/4 at 5:05pm. The times on your students’ devices might be inaccurate, so using an “Until” date that’s exactly the same as the due date might bar students who aren’t aware of this inaccuracy from submitting. To learn more about availability dates, please see: What is the difference between due dates and availability dates?
- Don’t leave a module unpublished that contains your published exam. If you do, the exam will be inaccessible to students even if they try accessing it through an area (e.g., “Quizzes”) in Canvas other than a module. Please see this blog post for more on how unpublished modules affect content in Canvas.
- For questions that contain images, don’t cut-and-paste the image into the question’s Rich Content Editor from another Canvas site. If you do, the image will not appear to your students because it hasn’t been uploaded to the Canvas site containing your exam. To add an image to a question, upload the file to Canvas first and then embed it in the question’s Rich Content Editor.
- Don’t set up another Canvas assignment or quiz for students who are taking another version of the exam or submitting an alternative format without contacting Courseware Support (firstname.lastname@example.org) first. A Canvas quiz or assignment must be completed by all students in a course, so creating an additional assignment or quiz intended for just one or a few of your students will make it so that your other students will also have to submit the assignment or take the exam; if they don’t, it will negatively affect their total grades. Courseware Support can assist you with scenarios like this.
- Don’t give extra credit without first consulting the instructions for giving extra credit in Canvas: How do I give my students extra credit?
Please contact Courseware Support at email@example.com if you need assistance with any of these suggestions or if you have any questions.