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Should I Be Getting Timed Exams During Distance Learning?

Timed exams are a common feature of online courses, but the practice is not entirely beneficial. While students may find timed exams to be a useful tool for learning and assessment, they can also create unnecessary stress. Even students with ARS accommodations are often disproportionately stressed by timed exams. Additionally, timed exams do little to prevent cheating and may be an ineffective measure of content mastery.

The best way to ensure that timed exams are fair to students is to set an exam schedule that allows students ample time to complete the tests. Ideally, the exam will start at the same time every day and end at a specific time. If time is of the essence, students may want to schedule three separate exams instead of two. The timeframe for these exams should be set to accommodate students in different time zones, as well.

When taking exams as a distance learner, students should always allow adequate time. Some universities use free tools to help students create their study materials. Those who use Evernote to study can easily organize and manage open-note exams. Vanderbilt University has a resource that supports professors to make online tests fair. Free study materials provide students with tons of useful tools for time management, notetaking, and online tests.

When creating timed exams, instructors should consider how the students use technology. For instance, students can answer their exam questions on paper, scan the paper with a scanning app, or take an image of their answers and paste the image directly into the exam document. Students should also consider the format in which exams will be submitted, such as Word documents or PDF files. Canvas assignments can use the Turnitin plagiarism detection tool to identify plagiarism.

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