Selecting Assessments

The information below, is designed to help you select the appropriate online tool for your testing and assessment needs. Select each link in the matrix for additional details and instructions regarding tool navigation.

What is this resource?

A non-exhaustive list of types of assessments appropriate for online courses, along with methods for administering each type synchronously and asynchronously.  These types of assessments can be used as a formative (to check student progress) or summative (to determine a grade) assessment.  The terms assessment and assignment may be used interchangeably.

How do I Use This?

When deciding on a method to assess student mastery of learning objective skills, review the options below to explore assessment options. Consult CET Instructional Designers for assistance at

Considerations for Online Assessments

  • Assessments help instructors to monitor and measure students’ learning by providing tangible, gradable evidence of their progress and skills.  The assessments we select for a course directly align to course learning objectives.  When planning or revising your course, decide which types of assessment would provide you the best evidence of a student’s skill for a given learning objective.  Consult Bloom’s Taxonomy for assistance in determining appropriate assignments for different skill levels.  Consider designing the assignment using CET’s Assignment Description Template. Change assignments semesterly to help reduce cheating. While online proctored exams can be done through software such as Respondus, they do not guarantee cheating will not occur. As an alternative, faculty may wish to consider assessments of higher order thinking and application skills (analysis, evaluation, synthesis, and creation), which make looking up and sharing answers more difficult in timed exams. Assessments can be designed to be done by individuals or groups. Peer review can be incorporated into many assessments. Students can be provided corresponding grading rubrics along with the assignment description.
  • Synchronous: Taking place when the instructor and students are communicating in real time, such as an online Zoom session. This term also describes a face-to-face classroom setting.
  • Asynchronous: Occurring when the instructor and students are not in direct communication, such as on Blackboard. This applies to any assignment students complete outside scheduled class times, also referred to as “homework.”

Online Methods for Various Assessment Types

Assessment typeSynchronous MethodAsynchronous Method
Multiple-choice exam or other question types with fixed answer options that can be automatically graded in BlackboardNon-anonymous pollingBlackboard test with question types: multiple-choice, multiple-answer, calculated numeric, hot spot, matching, true/false, either/or, ordering
Proctored exams, see Respondus Monitor
Short-answer exam (allows students to enter textual definitions, etc.)Non-anonymous polling in some platforms (not available in Zoom)Blackboard test with question types: short answer, essay
Proctored exams, see Respondus Monitor
Essay Exams, Papers, ReportsExam questions sent through Zoom chat or shared on screen and answered by students while Zoom video is on during class time.Taken in Blackboard during or outside of class time (can be time-limited).
Open-book/take-home essay questions.
Papers/reports submitted through Blackboard assignments or TurnItIn.
Proctored exams, see Respondus Monitor.
Presentations Delivered live in Zoom with students sharing their slides. Can be done individually or in groups.Video recorded presentations in Zoom to be reviewed later, or video recorded with phone, uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo, and link to video submitted in Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
Problem sets (long hand)Students work on hand-written problems while Zoom video is on during class time. Student takes a picture of or scans the document on their phone and uploads to Blackboard assignment or submits file in Zoom chat.Students work on hand-written problems outside of class time, take a picture of or scan the document on their phones, and upload to Blackboard assignment or discussion board by a specified due date and time.
Performance/Role PlayPerformed in Zoom during class time.Video recorded performances or role plays in Zoom to be reviewed later, or recorded with phone, uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo, and linked in Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
Production (of 2D or 3D project)Students demonstrate a product while Zoom is open, take a photo or video, and share photo in Zoom, or upload video to Youtube or Vimeo and provide link in Zoom chat.Students create a product, take a photo or video, and either upload photo to Blackboard, or upload video to Youtube or Vimeo and submit video link to Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
Data AnalysisStudents work on datasets in class while Zoom video is on, individually or in breakout groups, and present or submit results in chat, on whiteboard, or through a shared document.Students are provided data sets to be worked on at home, and results are submitted through a Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
Diagnosis, Problem Solving, Case StudyIndividual students or groups (in breakouts) work through a case verbally in class while Zoom video is on, or in written form and submit results through chat or a shared document.Students are given a case to work through on their own or in groups, and submit results in written or video form in a Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
Debate Students debate one another in class via Zoom.Students record a Zoom video debate, load onto Youtube or Vimeo, and submit link via Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
CritiqueStudents critique one another’s or an outside person’s work or case verbally in class via Zoom and/or chat. Group critiques can occur in Zoom breakout rooms.Students submit a written or video critique via Blackboard assignment or discussion board. Group critiques can be designed using Blackboard groups.
Business Plan or Product DesignStudents present their own business plan or product design for review in class via Share screen in Zoom.Students submit their own written business plan or product design for review in a written document or photograph or pdf via Blackboard assignment
Research ProjectStudents present their own research project or proposal for review in class via Share screen slides in Zoom.Students submit their own research project or proposal for review in a written document or slides via Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
Program Evaluation or Policy ReviewStudents verbally evaluate various aspects of a program, system, or policy, including its impact, individually or in groups via Zoom during class. Written evaluations can be submitted via chat file-sharing.Students evaluate various aspects of a program, system, or policy, including its impact, individually or in groups, and submit their written document via Blackboard assignment or discussion board.
Artistic Composition or workStudents perform or show their own artistic composition or work for critique during class, via Zoom.Students record video or photograph their own artistic composition or work for critique via Blackboard assignment, discussion board, blog or wiki.

Exam Administration & Proctoring Tools

Zoom and Blackboard (with Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor ) can each be used for administering or proctoring an exam. Features of each shown are below as well as in this quick reference card.

Instructions for administering or proctoring an exam for each tool are as follows.

  • Blackboard (with Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor)
    • Instructors click here to activate a test with Respondus tools.
    • Students click here to download Respondus tools and take test.
PrivacyHow visible students’ backgrounds areVirtual backgrounds allowedVirtual background not allowed
ComplianceAvoid over-burdening students who have special testing requirements (i.e. audio, visual, time, etc.)Adjustable test durationAssistive technologyAdjustable test durationSeparate tests if neededLimited assistive technology
EffortLevel of effort required by instructors and/or studentsSynchronousAdditional instructor effortEasy for students to useAsynchronousReal-time monitoring not requiredLearning curve for students
In-App CommunicationChat with host, raise hand, screen sharing, audio/videoNone, test takers need alternate method to communicate with proctor
ScaleSmall group or individualDedicated proctors needed if classes are segmented into breakout roomsEasily scalableDownload required
Recommended ForGreater flexibility / honor systemMore rigor

Administering or Proctoring an Exam in Zoom

When administering or proctoring exams in Zoom, both the instructor (or proctor) and student should use a PC or Mac app, and will need a webcam, microphone, sound output via headset or earbuds, and a strong Internet connection.

Set Up Test 

  • If you create a test in Blackboard, add a password to the test and plan to send the password to students right after they complete the security procedures at start of the exam.
  • If you create a test outside of Blackboard, prepare a message with test materials that you can send vie e-mail or Blackboard Announcement right after students complete security procedures at the start of the exam.

Schedule the Zoom Session in Blackboard

  • Schedule the Zoom meeting for the exam in Blackboard.
  • When setting the duration, add time for checking students’ IDs, desks, and rooms.
  • Ensure that you select the option to record the meeting automatically in the cloud.
  • Make sure that the following settings are made to testing sessions: Join Before Host– OFF, Password– ON, Screenshare– ON, Whiteboard– OFF, Annotation– OFF and File Share– OFF.
  • Send the Zoom meeting information to students using a Blackboard Announcement.

Zoom Backgrounds

For privacy, students can set up a virtual background in Zoom.

Join the Zoom Meeting

Join the meeting a few minutes before the scheduled time.

  • Both instructor (or proctor) and student must have a working webcam, microphone and sound output via headset or earbuds.
  • Instructor (or proctor) should ensure that students are able to share their screens.
  • If students enter the meeting with their video off, instruct them to start their video.
  • Advise students that they can set a virtual background if they have not already.


  • Ask each student to show their student ID, surface of the desk they are working on and the room they are working in using their webcam.
  • Remind the student of any test administration rules for your course.
  • Ask students to use private Zoom chat to ask questions during the exam.
  • Note: Let students know that the session is being recorded and can be reviewed if there is suspicion of cheating.

Starting the Exam

Upon completion of the security procedures:

  • Send the Blackboard password and/or test materials to students via e-mail or Blackboard announcement.
  • Ask students to send a private chat message to you if they do not receive the e-mail.
  • Remind students about the time to complete the exam and to send a private chat if they have questions during the exam.

During the Exam

  • The instructor (or proctor) should mute his/her own microphone and stop his/her video during the exam.
  • The student should leave their microphone, screen sharing (optional), and camera on for the duration of the exam.

Ending the Exam

  • At the end of the exam, watch the students end the exam or submit answers for grading using the agreed upon process (e.g., submission via e-mail).
  • Students should then leave the Zoom meeting. When students have left, end the meeting for all participants.