1. There will be 3 “mini-exams” given during class periods and an exam given during the schedule final exam slot.
  2. Exams will be given using Canvas Quizzing.

21/02/16 - slight wording to change to clarify that the example timing is an example. We may have exam segments that are not 25 minutes.

Giving exams is one of the most challenging aspects of adapting this class to remote instruction. Giving online exams is hard period (for a number of reasons), but the ways that 559 has historically given exams are particularly bad.

Figuring it out will take a lot of experimentation. I learned a lot from the Spring 2020 version of the class (if you’re curious see the Spring 2020 Final Exam Plan). Many things went wrong (including an internet service outage in my neighborhood while I was trying to proctor the exam!).

I do not intend to use a proctoring service. However, I reserve the right to use one if academic integrity is a problem in the class. I find these services kindof invasive and problematic and hope I do not need to resort to using one.

Part (and only part) of the problem is academic integrity. Normally, I trust students: if you want to cheat, it is your loss. But cheating hurts those who are honest. This New York Times op-ed really resonated with me: “If my classmates are going to cheat on an online exam, why can’t I?". The responsibility for a fair exam is on both of us (student and professor): you (students) should act ethically, but I should create an environment that encourages good behavior.

Therefore, rather than using a proctoring service, I will try to use exam design principles to discourage cheating. Not because I don’t trust you - but because I want you not to feel like everyone else is cheating.

The ideas:

  • More frequent, smaller exams. In the past 559 had 2 high-stakes exams (a midterm and a final). This year we will have 3 mini-exams, and a final.
  • The exams will be “open book” - it’s up to me to develop questions that you cannot efficiently find the (correct) answer to by searching. There’s just no way to give a closed-book exam remotely that isn’t obtrusive.
  • Time pressured - this is the other part of open book.
  • Randomized/personalized - expect that you will get different questions than your friends.
  • Administered by Canvas Quizzes. You’ll take the exam right in Canvas.
  • Semi-Synchronous. We need everyone to take things are the same time (so a student can’t finish and reveal information about the exam). However, fully synchronous exams are hard (getting a long quiet block of time can be hard when you are working from home).
  • You must be able to finish the exam in the class period.

The specific details of how this will be implemented (subject to change):

  1. The exam will be “semi-synchronous” you may take the exam within the time slot, with some flexibility of how you use your time within the slot.
  2. The exam will consist of a number of short timed segments. Once you start a segment, you have a limited time to finish it. However, you can choose when to start it. So, for example, if a mini-exam has 2 25 minute segments, you could do them back to back (and be done in 50 minutes or less), or take a break in between the pieces. You must complete all segments within the exam window.
  3. You may not collaborate with others. You should not talk about the exam or its topics during the exam window. While it is OK to read about graphics topics (you can consult resources during the exam), you may not write about them (e.g., post a question to an online forum).
  4. You may not communicate with other students in class during the exam window (even when you are not taking the exam).