The other options:
A guide to making your Blackboard test run smoothly
Creating good and effective questions in Blackboard can help your students
learn, and save you time. However, the process of creating assignments is
more than simply adding questions into Blackboard. There are several other
important options that can have significant effects on the test.
For example, some selections can tightly lock the test down, allowing only a
single timed attempt within a narrow period of availability. Another set of
selections could allow student to take the test whenever they like, as often as
they like, and to see full answers and feedback.
The selections that are best for your assessment will depend on what your
assessment is designed to achieve. This guide is designed to explain what
the options are, and what implications for your assessment they will have.
How to access options
Open the relevant Bb module, and go into the control panel. Find the
test in the content area and click the 'Modify' button. You will get two options:
Modify the Test; Modify the Test Options. Click the latter of these.
Make the link available
This option controls whether the test is available for student to access,
very much like an on/off switch. Setting this to available means the test will
appear in Blackboard, though be aware that other options (such as adaptive
release, timed release or module availability) may mean that students can not
This option allows you to specify how often your students can retake a
test. You can allow them a single attempt only, as many attempts as they
wish, or a specified number of attempts.
Allowing students only one attempt does not require the student to
finish the test in a single sitting. If you wish to enforce this, you will need to
enable Force Completion. However, enabling these options does create
issues. Please see the entry for Force Completion (below) for more detail.
If multiple attempts are allowed, please note that only the last attempt
is recorded in the Gradebook.
Force completion means that the student can not leave the test and
resume the attempt later on. This prevents the student viewing the question,
quitting the test, looking up the answer and returning to the test to complete
the question. It is therefore useful in providing a stricter testing environment.
It is especially powerful when combined with only allowing a single attempt
(above), which can create exam-like conditions.
Using Force Complete and not allowing Multiple Attempts together locks a
test down very effectively.
However, because of the nature of these options if anything goes wrong while
the test is being taken (for example, network failure, student presses wrong
button, computer crashes) the test becomes locked and the student can not
complete the test, requiring tutor intervention to reset it. Experience has
shown that students taking tests in unsupervised conditions tend to suffer
from these issues at a significant rate.
It is therefore advised that these are only combined under supervised
conditions, and after advice has been given to students to avoid them
'breaking' the system
For guidance on how to reset tests, and advice to give student to prevent
them from being locked in the first place, please see the appendix at the end
of this document.
This allows an expected completion time to be set. A timer should be
displayed in the top right of browser window, but computer security settings
may prevent this, so it is suggested that students are advised to keep track of
the time themselves. If time is exceeded, the assessment is not automatically
closed, but allows the student to continue until they have completed the
assessment. However, if they do take longer than the time allowed, they are
not given marks for the test immediately, as the tutor is given an opportunity
to adjust the final grade based. For example, if a student takes an extra 20
minutes to complete the test, the tutor could reduce the score accordingly.
The length of time the student did take is recorded in the gradebook. If you
are going to use this functionality, it is important this clear to students
For guidance on adjusting marks, please see the appendix at the end of this
Setting display dates allows you to control the time frames in which the
test appears in Blackboard. They can be changed at any time should you
wish to extend or reduce the period available. Like Link Availability, other
factors are also involved in whether the link can be seen.
The password option allows you to set a password for the assessment.
This is case-sensitive
Test Feedback Options
These options allow you to specify what is displayed to student upon
submission of their test paper.
Score displays the mark for the assessment. This is dependant on answers
being provided for all applicable questions, no questions that require tutor
grading (i.e. short answer or essay type responses) and not exceeding any
applied time limit.
This displays the answers that the student gave for the questions they sat
Displays the answers the tutor set as correct. For obvious reasons, you may
wish to consider turning this setting off for any summative test. It may also be
useful to turn it off for any formative assessment too, as the presence of a
right or wrong answer may reduce the likelihood of examining any feedback or
thinking about their answer.
One of the biggest advantages of using Blackboard for assessment is that it
can provide instant feedback. Student surveys inevitably show a desire for
more and timely feedback on their progress, and while a computer testing can
not replace face to face discussion it can help.
Feedback can be set for correct/incorrect answers, but it can also be set up
by individual responses, depending on question type. See this document for
All at once
Every question is presented to the student on a single page, allowing
them to scroll up and down the test paper
When you use this option, all the test data is sent to the Bb systems at
once. This means that if your test is long (more than 20 questions) or will be
taken simultaenously by many students, problems can be experienced. In
these situations, presenting questions 'One at a time' will help present
One at a time
Questions are presented individually so that only one is visible at a
time. By default, students can navigate using through the paper using
buttons, but this option helps to promote linear progress through the paper.
This option disables the navigation buttons for 'one at a time' tests, and
thus ensures that students complete the test in a linear fashion and can not
return to earlier questions. It is essential that this is explained to them, as
other wise they may use the 'Back' button to try and return them to a previous
question. Doing this will kick them out of the test.
Randomising questions presents the questions in a different order
every time the test is taken. This option is therefore very useful in exam
conditions to reduce the opportunity for student's to plagiarise a neighbour's
Adjusting marks and resetting tests in the Gradebook
If a test needs tutor intervention to grade (for example if it includes free
text answers or a student has overrun the time allowed), you can alter this in
Access the Gradebook from the Control Panel in Blackboard. A list of the
student taking the module and the tests in the module are displayed in a
matrix form. The mark received by a student for a completed test is displayed
in the matrix. If the student has not completed the test, a dash is shown.
However, there are two exceptions to this.
If the student has submitted a test, but it requires tutor attention, a red
exclamation mark is displayed. If a test is in progress, a padlock symbol is
displayed. This is also displayed if a test attempt has been aborted, for
example, if a student had been taking a test on which 'Force Completion' was
set and for whatever reason failed to submit the test.
In either instance, access the student's attempt by click the exclamation
If a student over ran a timed test, you can enter the adjusted grade in the box
provided. Click submit to update this field.
To view the student's paper to mark any ungraded attempts, click the "view"
button. You can enter the marks for any ungraded question into the relevant
box. When done, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click 'submit'.
To reset an attempt, either click the 'Clear Attempt' button in the bottom right,
or select the desired option from the menu adjacent to the Clear Attempt
label, and click go.
Guidance on helping students avoid quitting test accidentally
Some instances of tests failing to complete can not be avoided, for
example power cuts, network failures or computer crashes. Blackboard itself
is a robust platform to run tests on, but it also relies on other factors working
In addition, because it is essentially a programme running over the internet in
a browser, it is possible for students to navigate away from the page by
accident. This happens most commonly by triggering the 'Back' function.
This is especially a problem in tests that have options to make the questions
appear one-by-one, but prevent student's backtracking through the test. If a
student wishes to change a previous answer, they may click the 'Back' button
in the browser, unaware that this will navigate them away from the test. In
addition, the use of BackSpace key triggers the Back function. Some types of
keyboards, and even mice, feature 'Back' buttons which will also navigate
them away from the test.
It is therefore suggested that students are told of these pitfalls and asked to
take pains to avoid navigating away from the test, opening new windows that
might override the test, or anything that might trigger the 'Back' function.
In the event of this occurring, please see the section on "Adjusting marks and
resetting tests in the Gradebook"