Creating Pedagogically Comprehensive Exams for Online Delivery

Creating Pedagogically Comprehensive Take Home Exams/ Timed Exams for Online Delivery

As you prepare final exam options, here is a 1-2-3 guide when designing a take-home exam or reformatting for a timed online exam.

  1. Start with the learning outcomes. Look at your course student learning outcomes and your exam learning outcomes. Determine if there are gaps present. If you have course learning outcomes that have not yet been assessed this is probably where your focus will be for your exam. If it is a cumulative exam, where all course learning outcomes are being assessed, this will probably require a multi-section exam or different types of questions in the exam.


  1. Focus on the higher-level Bloom’s learning outcomes. Higher-level Blooms will assure a more pedagogically comprehensive exam and will support academic integrity (whether timed or take home/open book). This means having questions that ask students to:

Apply the concepts from your course in different ways (calculations and formulas, word problems, case studies). Multiple-choice questions can also ask for application instead of recall.

Analyze concepts from your course through a comparison of two scenarios, an essay, or by writing a short report. They could also graph or model multiple possibilities based on the question asked.

Evaluate a scenario using course concepts. Ask students to predict the outcome of a scenario, defend a position using course concepts and resources, or justify an action using case study details and course components.

Create a new artifact based on the concepts and principles from your course (storyboards, presentations, drawings) and can include authentic examples.


  1. Keep accessibility in mind. When writing your questions for take-home exams provide options and choice where possible. For all exams remember that not all students will have a lot of technology at home; most will in fact be completing work on a mobile device or laptop. Some will have very limited Internet access if at all. So for example, try to avoid mandating large bandwidth files (videos, many visuals). There are multiple options to attain the same learning outcomes and you will be promoting Universal Design for Learning principles and promoting academic integrity if you have choice.

If you need assistance while assessing learning outcomes or writing exam questions please reach out to Ann Gagné, Educational Developer, Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre.

Good Luck; the UTM Teaching & Learning Collaboration (TLC) Community is With You!

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