My Top 10 tips for doing summative assessments on Canvas Quizzes


Dr Katherine MA Rogers

Student evaluations indicate that they like quizzing as a means of gauging their progress, revision and ongoing study.  As a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, I have been using multiple choice questions (MCQs) in summative assessments for over 10 years.   

Running summative assessments remotely using Canvas Quizzes for the first time during the pandemic was daunting!  Since May 2021, I have successfully coordinated 1027 summative assessments taken in Canvas Quizzes, so as we accelerate towards another season of assessments, I thought it was timely to share my top 10 tips for using Canvas Quizzes in summative assessments: 

  1. Practice, practice, practice – for students and staff. I spent a lot of time playing around with the Quiz function.  For staff this involves setting up Question Banks and Quizzes, and creating different types of questions.  For students – they should be encouraged to use the Quizzes to become familiar with the system in the exam setting.
  1. Know your assessment platform! Being very familiar with how Canvas Quizzes worked helped me to anticipate problems and answer student questions quickly. I am on first name terms with several of the excellent QUB Canvas Support Team!  I created a set-up checklist which helped me to ensure I had all parameters covered for my first official exam in Canvas Quizzes.
  1. Ask students what they would like. Based on the student feedback I set up several versions of a mock exam: timed and untimed, single attempt quiz and multiple attempts.  This allowed students to take ownership of how they used the Quizzes in their revision, study and exam preparation. 
  1. Provide plenty of guidance, through a variety of media, well in advance – checklists, screenshots, live videos (but keep these quite short). I have screencast videos of accessing the exam under exam conditions, navigating the system and how we review the exam – in real-time (while the exam is underway) and for post-exam moderation. The videos (linked below) are stored in Mediasite and I use them for all my modules. Students find these very useful as part of their preparation for the exam.  
  1. Be transparent with students – show them what we see and how we use the system for post-exam scrutiny (see point 4). 
  1. Mimic exam conditions in practice sessions. This also links with point 4.  Towards the end of the module, I gave surprise Quizzes in class that were scaled-down versions of the final exam (in terms of time and question number but with different questions). Students really liked these practice Quizzes and despite being a surprise, asked me to do more. 
  1. Keep a summative exam quiz unpublished for as long as possible – For security reasons, I left it until the day before to publish my first Canvas Quizzes exam; I also left it until the day before to link the Question Bank to the exam.  
  1. Put exam questions into a Question Bank and set up a new Question Bank for each new the exam. I am a hoarder, so I like the idea of always having the exact exam questions saved separately.  This way, you will always have a record of the questions for the specific exam sitting and it allows for precise statistical analysis of the cohort performance. 
  1. Keep an open channel of communication during the exam.  On the night before the first exam I had a brainwave: open a Teams meeting during the exam as a direct line of contact to me!  No one needed to use it for technical issues but several joined at the end to discuss the exam.  They were very positive about the reassurance it provided during the exam.  Obviously, this is irrelevant when holding exams on-campus, but it is an option for live, online remote exams.
  1. From the beginning of module, treat it the same as a traditional exam.  For staff, using Canvas Quizzes requires more pre-planning than a paper exam; students need to be in the mind-set that it is as “important” as any other assessment. 

This list is not exhaustive – needless to say, it was a steep learning curve… and I am still learning!  However, I would certainly not go back to other online quizzing platforms now, and when we get the new release of Canvas Quizzes, no doubt there will be more learning with that version. 

If you are thinking about using Canvas Quizzes for summative assessment and would like more advice, just get in touch – I am happy to share more detail of my experiences. 

Click these links to view my Mediasite videos (noted in point 4): How to access your final exam in Canvas and Video of exam moderation and scrutiny of exams in Canvas

For more information on QUB Canvas support:

If you are writing MCQs for Canvas Quizzes, perhaps you might like to join the forthcoming MCQ writing workshop on 24th March 2022? 

7 thoughts on “My Top 10 tips for doing summative assessments on Canvas Quizzes

  1. Thank you for this Katherine. Having attended one this week, I would highly recommend the MCQ writing workshop, delivered by Katherine and Iseult, to anyone considering using MCQ for formative or summative quizzes on their module.

    • Many thanks for your positive feedback Conor – it is wonderful to know that colleagues found the workshop helpful!

  2. Great Katherine, thank you for this – sorry did not get to workshop this week – however from what I have seen, it would appear we are on the same page. No doubt Katherine we will be in touch regarding setup of a new online year 3 module summative assessment.

    • Thanks for your valuable feedback Doris. It is reassuring to know that colleagues have similar thinking about our collective practice for this type of assessment; I think this will make it easier to establish a School-wide policy on best practice for assessment by MCQ.

      Certainly get in touch if there are any questions about setting up your assessment. The workshop is running again on 24 March if you or anyone from your module team is interested in coming along.

  3. Super tips Katherine. Thank you so much for your knowledgable insights, reflections and guidance for both lecturers and students. #MCQs #Assessments #Learning

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