Shelli’s Blog #3 on Virtual Teaching: Rethinking ExamsPDF File

CSUF's Director of Online Education and Training and Faculty in Child and Adolescent Studies, Shelli Wynants shares her journey of rethinking exams during the COVID 19 Spring semester transition to remote teaching.


Tips to Transition to Online Exams (Video 7:27min)

SJSU's Mary Poffenroth, faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, addresses concerns about and offers strategies for moving quizzes and exams online.


What Do Final Exams Mean During a Pandemic?

An April 27, 2020 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, featuring a chemistry professor who allowed students to complete a take-home final, write an essay on what they learned in the course and during the pandemic, or propose their own final project.

Ohio State University Alternative to Exams and Finals Workshop
CSU Monterey Bay provides an outline of a recorded presentation created by The Ohio State University that links to sections of interest. Topics include limitations for students, possible modifications, possible exam structures, deciding what to test, alternatives to exams, and alternatives to performances.
How Can Students Generate Evidence of Their Learning in a Remote World? 
Recording of the April 2020 Meetup led by the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning that addressed how students can generate and show evidence of learning through ePortfolio approaches, even without an ePortfolio tool. Site includes links to resources shared by participants.
CSUF OET Best Practices for Online Teaching Training
  • Plan frequent, varied and ongoing assessment strategies (e.g., forums, games, self-assessment activities, quizzes, case scenarios, applied practice problems)
  • Limit/avoid high-stakes exams (e.g., exams alone or combined contribute to a significant portion of the grade)
  • Ensure assessment outcomes demonstrate students have achieved the SLOs
  • Create active and authentic (real world) assessments
  • Incorporate student choice and creativity in assignments/projects (e.g., if the assignment is a project, let students decide how to share outcome, such as a video, PowerPoint presentation, animation, webpage, etc.)
  • Use rubrics and scoring checklists to convey expectations and grade objectively
  • Provide examples for students to apply the criteria and standards
  • Provide students with multiple opportunities to self-reflect on their learning and the course during the semester
  • Identify your new expectations for students: You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students’ ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.


  • Create a more detailed communications plan: Once you have more details about changes in the class, communicate them to students, along with more information about how they can contact you (email, remote office hours, etc.). A useful communication plan also lets students know how soon they can expect a reply. They will have many questions, so try to figure out how you want to manage that.