Assessment à la Mode: Implementing an Adaptable Large-Scale Multivariant Online Deferred-Grade Exam for Virtual Learning

Bhavani Balasubramanian, Chris Desantis, Miriam Gulotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The COVID pandemic forced many higher education institutions to pivot and switch to an online learning environment with minimal preparation. This transition was put in place during the middle of the spring semester, in March. During this transition, instructors had to quickly learn the tools of online teaching, navigate platforms like Webex and Zoom, and adapt their lectures to an online format. One of the biggest challenges during this transition was to administer common online exams to high enrollment undergraduate classes, such as general chemistry and organic chemistry, without compromising the integrity of the exam. The in-person chemistry common exam that is normally administered to students at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) had both multiple-choice and open-ended questions. In order to replicate this online, and to reduce the potential temptation to cheat, a robust multiple-choice and open-ended exam with multiple versions was required. Furthermore, this online exam had to be easily administered through our learning management system. What was developed included a blueprint for an online exam intended for large-scale distribution over multiple days with safeguards in place to protect the integrity of the examination. The exam employed deferred grading, a lockdown browser, multiple question variants, time controls, and controlled access to the completed exam to combat potential cheating. The exam resulted in average scores that were comparable to in-person exam scores from previous semesters, validating the proposed approach. In addition, polling results after administration of the exam showed strong student satisfaction with exam design and directions and student preference for webcam proctored exams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4297-4302
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 8 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Education


  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary
  • Internet/Web-Based Learning
  • Second-Year Undergraduate
  • Testing/Assessment


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