Alternatives to exams

Consider that assessment can come from other sources beyond high-stakes exams (i.e., more than just a midterm and final exam).  Some options to consider include

  • Using more more low-stakes quizzes
  • Using more assignments / homework problems
  • Using a major deliverable such as a project, report, presentation, or essay
  • Have students build a portfolio of work through the term

Other resources to explore for alternatives to exams:

  • UC Berkley has a good list of traditional testing alternatives
  • Indiana University has another list, including suggestions based on what you’d like to assess (e.g. understanding, integration, creation, etc.)

If you do change your assessment methods, make sure to keep the following in mind:

  1. If all courses do the same, students could become overwhelmed with many low-stakes assessments or conflicting assessments.  (Imagine being a student with four 1% quizzes, one paper, and two presentations all due on the same day).  Anticipate being asked to coordinate with others in the Department.
  2. How are you going to confirm the work being assessed is from the individual submitting it?  (I.e., in assigning a grade to a student, do you know they actually did that work?  See the Strategies for Promoting Academic Integrity page.)
  3. Consider policies that give some flexibility to students and to help mitigate temptations for misconduct, such as counting only the top 5 of 6 quizzes, or similar.


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