Today marked a first for my AP Psych students/: an all-online Unit test using Canvas, our new learning management system. I was extremely nervous before the test began! There were several things that could have gone wrong; to name just a few that I had worried about:
- the wifi may have failed,
- I may have setup the options wrong, or
- Student iPads may not have been charged.
Fortunately for me, none of those problems materialized. Once students got started, it was smooth sailing.
I’d setup the general framework of the test, and then let Canvas handle the specifics. Over the summer, Yosup Joo and I had brought collections of multiple-choice questions over from a database that we have. This test leveraged those banks of questions. For example, the Unit 1 test bank has 103 questions in it, but this test just pulled 20 random questions from that bank. It took 30 from the Unit 2 test bank (which has 130 total questions), and then five questions that we’d gotten from a conference we’d attended this summer at Stanford. Students had 45-minutes to complete this test.
I had told students earlier in the week that this test would be in Canvas, and I invited students who preferred taking such tests on a laptop to bring one. The students who brought laptops had the easiest time taking the test. Students who used their iPad had to choose between using the Canvas app and using Safari. Many of those who used the app had a moment of panic when they clicked the “begin test” link: the app stalled a little. I assume that’s because the app was pulling the random 20 and the random 30 questions from the banks, and scrambling the multiple-choice options. After 4- to 8-seconds, the app loaded, and all was well.
There are four things I really like about doing a test in Canvas.
First, unlike photocopying 120 copies of a test, finding a mistake on it with the first students to take the test, and being stuck with it — here, I was able to log in to the test bank and make an edit that showed up for all subsequent classes.
Second, ever since I had two Psych students cheat on their Midterm, I’ve used three to four versions of a test for each class period. That has always created more work for me on both ends of the test: writing it, and correcting them. With the use of test banks in Canvas, every student has a unique version of the test.
Third, when students hit “submit,” they get immediate feedback on their performance. I opted to allow students to see what their choice was for each question, as well as what the correct answer is. In this way, they could hopefully learn from their mistakes right away.
Finally, I dig the question analysis. Unlike a standard Scantron or Apperson analysis, I get to see how many students chose the right answer — and how many chose incorrect answers. This helps uncover misunderstandings that I can reteach or address at the next class meeting.
All in all, having a unit test in Canvas worked quite well.