Assessment Recipe: Short essay/text answers (more or less the same but generally more questions)

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If you need to use alternative methods to Blackboard such as e-assignment or another tool, this needs to approved by AQSC through communication with your Deputy Head of School for Education.

In person arrangements

When this type of exam is sat in person students sit spaced apart in a large hall. Students have a printed question paper with rubric on the front. The question book will contain numerous short answer questions on different topics. Students may have a choice of which questions to answer.

How to transfer this online

A new Final Assessment menu item has been added to most Blackboard courses. Please use this content area to add all content relating to your final assessment, or move your final assessments here if they are elsewhere. If you do not see a Final Assessment menu item, you can create one by following this guide:  How to add a Blackboard menu item.

Within this content area, add a content item explaining that this is where the assessment will be found on the day. This should include the rubric for the assessment (usually found on the front of the physical paper) so that students have a clear understanding of what the format will be. Include information such as who in the school students should contact with questions about the assessment or the paper, including technical questions*. Also, include a link to this Student Guide: Preparing for short duration online assessment (

If you wish for your students to include certain information such as their student number but not their name, or if you wish for students  to use a template for their submission make this clear and provide the students with the resources you require of them.  The file format recommended for students to use to submit is Microsoft Word (doc or docx) or Rich Text Format.  While other formats are compatible their use may result in a greater volume of support calls.

*this is based on on this section of Section IV: General Information and Regulations of the University Calendar that states that “The nominee(s) of the Associate Dean (Education) must be available during the whole of the examination period in case of queries”, to keep the Short Duration Online Assessment process aligned with this exams process that it replaces, the nominee (usually a course instructor) should be available for student queries during their working hours.


Create the assessment paper as a PDF file.  Create an item in the same content area and attach this PDF, use the text box to add any further information about the assessment paper, and state that when the students open the PDF they will find the assessment question/s within it.  Set this item to become available when you want students to have access to the exam paper.  Explain that the Turnitin submission link you create below should be used for submitting their answer.

Create a Turnitin assignment where the students will submit their exam paper.  Due to the number of questions it is simpler to use only one assignment.  Using multiple assignments may cause confusion for both students and instructors.

Exams will be scheduled by the Exams Office so you should match start and end dates/times for the assessment to match the exam schedule.

While most options should be set according to your preference, some recommendations are:

Allow only file types that Turnitin can check for similarity: select this option.

Start Date: Set this to the earliest date and time from which you wish students to have the ability to submit.

Due Date: Set this to the latest date and time after which students should no longer be able to submit.

Post Date: Set the Post Date well into the future, you can always bring it forward later.

Generate Similarity Reports for submissions: Set to Yes if required.

Generate Similarity Reports for student submission: Set to on due date.

Allow students to see Similarity Reports: Set to No if you wish.

Enable anonymous marking:  Set to No. If you set anonymous marking you will run into huge problems when it comes to releasing marks into banner. Also this pairs extremely badly with multiple submissions. Please do not get this wrong.

Submit papers to: if you wish for Turnitin to add the student submissions to their database, select standard paper repository, otherwise select no repository.  Add caveat – unless you have a justification…


When the exam paper is available students can begin reviewing it and creating their answer submission/s.  Once the Turnitin assignment is open they may begin submitting their answers. Students will not be automatically notified that the exam paper is available or that the Turnitin submission has opened.  Therefore, it is essential to ensure that students know the process and what will happen at what time.

Students should complete the answers in a word document in much the same way they would fill out an exam answer booklet.

Once the due date has been reached students will no longer be able to submit.

Students should use Microsoft Word to create the document on a personal computer (e.g. not tablet, phone or smart tv) saving the file frequently within their University OneDrive.  Before submitting the exam they should ensure that Word is closed, this prevents the file being locked due to it being open.  Students should use Google Chrome to access Blackboard and submit their assignment.

Online considerations

This assessment will not be proctored (invigilated) which means that it is effectively open book. Students have access to all of Google and the wider web. There is no way to enforce that they complete the assessment with a set time other than the time between the start date and the due date.   This means potentially students could spend all 24 hours (for example) working on the exam. Your questions should be structured to take this into consideration. Questions which hinge on them to remember facts are unlikely to be useful identifying strong students. Submissions will be passed through Turnitin to similarity check them, this makes it more difficult for students to share work between each other.

While there are short answer/essay questions in Blackboard tests these are not recommended for summative purposes because of the potential for problems to occur.  While multiple Turnitin assignment could be created for each question, these are likely to be so numerous that it invites confusion for students.

Risks and possible mitigation

In addition to the general risks outlined on the main Online Short Duration Assessments web page, the table below covers risks specific to this scenario along with suggested mitigations.

What could go wrong? Possible Mitigation
Error found in question/answers after assessment made available. Ensure that the questions, rubric and all settings have been thoroughly proof read and reviewed for errors by yourself and relevant colleagues in good time before the assessment is due to take place.
Student loses their internet connection and cannot participate within the time frame. AQSC Policy will explain how respond to this should it arise
An assessment has been scheduled to be available for the wrong time, or for too little time. You can change the settings at any time, but we recommended that you agree within your school or faculty how you will deal with this if it happened. If this is reported after the  start time has passed it may be a question of an appeal to go through the School’s standard process.  See also “Error found in question/answers after assessment made available” at the top of this table.
Blackboard becomes unavailable during the assessment. AQSC Policy will explain how respond to this should it arise
A student sees a score or correct answer feedback when they should not. Set the ‘hide from students’ setting for the Grade Centre column and make sure the score is not included in the running total.  Set the Post Date well into the future, you can always bring it forward later.
A student submitted an assignment just as the deadline passed, and their receipt shows it was late, even though they started submitting before the deadline. AQSC Policy will explain how respond to this should it arise

Marking and giving feedback

To replicate the exams experience it is expected that no feedback will be given to students for the submissions other than a final score which would be delivered via Banner Self Service and the “Marks Release” process.  More information will be placed here shortly.  In the meantime it is important to ensure that marks are hidden from students and that the Turnitin Post Date is set well into the future.

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