How to do a math test with student work and a time limit?

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I am trying to figure out how to

1) allow students to take a test at their own chosen time (within a window of time),

2) have students download a test document (PDF), and then upload or email their written responses (as PDF),

3) impose a time limit on the test.

I haven't found a good way in Canvas to implement a test that satisfies all 3 requirements. Thanks for any help you can offer.

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I was originally going to do something like what  @cyang suggested and decided against it for a couple of reasons. My technique does not enforce the time limit, but it is easier for everyone to use. I rely on students to self-regulate their time, but it is good to have a policy in your syllabus about what will happen if they go over the limit -- I had on student taking a Calculus 3 final who "lost track of time" by an extra 1.5 hours.

Also, I did not require that students have a printer. Most did, but a few hand-wrote the answers on separate paper. They did have to have something to scan the work and convert it to a PDF. One used a scanner, most used their iPhones or Android devices.

  1. Make sure the students know what is going on and do a trial run to make sure that they can scan a document and upload it. I use an honor statement before each exam.
  2. Create a quiz that has one question. It is a text-only question that has a link to the PDF of the exam. I use a question group so that I can upload multiple versions and randomize the distribution, but that's optional. Encourage the students to leave the quiz up and running while they complete the exam so they have the timer, but also encourage them to say "Alexa, set a timer for 90 minutes."
  3. Have a separate assignment that accepts file uploads for the submission of the quiz. I have them use Adobe Scan (+ Adobe Acrobat for iOS users) because I want their file as a PDF, not as a photo. The Adobe Acrobat added the ability to browse the files. 

For the student, having Adobe Scan/Acrobat Bundle allows you to share directly with Canvas -- if it is an assignment that supports file uploads. If it is a file upload question on quiz, this functionality does not exist and students will need to go to the quiz question, choose a file, and then browse to find the upload.

That's a little more hassle for the students, but doable. However, there some big downsides to using a file upload question for the instructor and this is why I went with a separate assignment.

  • With a file upload question, you must download each student's submission separately. With a separate assignment you can download all of them at onceEdit (2020-07-23): Harry pointed out that you can "Download All Files" from the Quiz page. You cannot upload the files back like you can with an assignment.
  • With a file upload question, you cannot enforce the type of file submission. With a separate assignment, you can specify the upload type and limit it to PDF (if that's what you want -- I do).
  • With a file upload question, there is no preview inside SpeedGrader. With a separate assignment, you get to use DocViewer and leave comments directly within SpeedGrader.

The downside to the separate assignment is that it doesn't enforce the time limit. I was doing this with small classes so it wasn't hard for me to check. I would go into the Quiz and see when they started it. I did this with my finite, calculus 3, and differential equations classes after the COVID-19 shutdown and it worked fairly well. The largest class I had doing this had 8 students, so it would be harder to check for a large class. However, the downsides listed above would be magnified as well.

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