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As a teacher I use as much for diagnostic and formative homework assignments as I do for graded tests. Here are a few thoughts and ideas if you haven’t tried these before…

Preparation homework for the following lesson

If you like the ‘Flipped Classroom’ strategy as I do – where students prepare before class – then can be really useful. I usually give my students a diagnostic worksheet of questions to complete before embarking on a new topic, so that I have an idea of their knowledge before we start. My experience is that the students know this is not graded – it’s to help me run the subsequent lessons more effectively – and they answer honestly. 

Using auto-marked questions gives me even quicker, direct feedback – I can get an immediate overview of the general level of knowledge in the class, as well as an individual student’s command of the topic. I just have a quick scan in the Monitoring/Results after they have submitted. 

This looks like I’ll have to start from scratch… 😐
In the Results view I can even see who did the work at the last minute and who didn’t do it at all!

The students can also get direct feedback and see the correct answers after they submit their work. Just make a quick adjustment in the settings.

Formative feedback homework 

Over time I have created a bank of worksheets, which I reuse with different classes, and having them stored in the Exam List means I can easily fine-tune them after trying them out. Creating worksheets which are mostly or entirely auto-marked, means I save lots of time not having to mark and the students get formative feedback more regularly. 

Although the students’ results can’t necessarily be used for grading, I find that the students themselves appreciate getting formative feedback more often. This is especially the case for students who struggle with self-motivation and often need regular checks on progress to keep them on track. 

Having been doing this for a while now, setting an existing worksheet for a new group takes just a couple of minutes. A quick look at the Results view gives me an overview of progress in the class, and highlights students who are struggling, or not doing their homework at all.

Setting a deadline for homework assignments

If I want to give the students a couple of days to complete a homework assignment, and to hand it in no later than the end of school on Thursday, say, then I simply give them the deadline and close the exam in the Exam List at that time to ensure no further entries. 

If you use Google Classroom, the students can reach the assignment there, and in case you don’t, you can easily email each student an individual key to resume the piece of work at home.  

Close the exam in the Exam List to ensure no further entries.
End the exam for all students who are still taking the exam, with possible exceptions.

Helping students focus during homework

The fact that the students are locked into the test environment and it fills the screen, means that they won’t be distracted by notifications from social media, messaging apps or websites. Many students tell me that this is really beneficial and helps them focus for longer, and we all know that the number of students with concentration and focusing issues is not decreasing!

Do not disturb!

Given that I don’t want to be dealing with students getting locked out of their assignment whilst I’m relaxing (or more probably marking 😴) in the evening, I choose a low security mode in the settings.

Here are two different options which I recommend in different circumstances. I use the lowest security setting (Allow any browser) which still ensures that the students won’t be distracted by notifications on their computer. 

I usually choose to turn off cheat prevention completely if it’s not a graded assignment. For example, a worksheet where I want to encourage them to look things up.

I would choose this setting if, for example, the students were asked to read a text and answer questions, or write their own texts.

Extra benefits:
Students can’t access the internet in order to copy and paste texts generated by AI or from other sources into the exam window without me being notified.

P.S. Don’t forget to give the students the exam key before a homework assignment (Yep, been there….🙄) and of course – remember to open the exam 😆

Enjoy the time you will save in testing these things out!

Nic Cardwell
Docent wiskunde

With auto-marked e-assessments you reduce time and effort in grading exams. Read more about as your e-assessment solution.

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