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    online placement exams

    edited December 2017 in Questions

    My question is simple: do you have an online placement exam for your students? If so, what is covered on it, and what technology are you using to facilitate it? Any resources are much appreciated. I am looking to build an online test for our students so that they don't have to come to town just for a placement test.

    (edit to add—I'm not asking about online courses!)

    Megan L. Lavengood  |  Assistant Professor, George Mason University

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    • Music Fundamentals Online through IU can provide remediation after a diagnostic; students complete modules in order to place into "Theory I." I used it this year and it worked very effectively!
    • Music Fundamentals Online through IU can provide remediation after a diagnostic; students complete modules in order to place into "Theory I." I used it this year and it worked very effectively!
      can you clarify Andrew—does IU offer an exam?

      Megan L. Lavengood  |  Assistant Professor, George Mason University

    • I test all of our incoming freshmen using a custom online fundamental theory and aural-skills test as well as an in-person check of pitch-matching, melodic memory, and other skills necessary for success in our 1st-semester courses. With the exception of students who have advanced placement, all of our music majors and minors begin in Theory I, and I use their test results to advise them what they should study prior to the beginining of the course. I have been recommending several online fundamentals programs to those who need them. In visiting Indiana's Music Fundamentals Online site (https://mfo.music.indiana.edu/login) I found that it requires an Indiana network ID and passphrase. Is there a way I could preview it and consider using it for post-placement remediation for our students, or is it only available to Hoosiers?

      Jana Millar | Baylor University

    • At Utah State, we have recently put all our diagnostic exams online. Our music fundamentals test is administered through the Canvas LMS. All students register for the Fundamentals class, and once they're into the LMS site for the course they have access to the test. It covers the typical topics with an emphasis on intervals and triad labels. We also just recently digitized our transfer student exams, though it doesn't sound like that is quite what you're looking for.

    • In 2000, I created an online theory placement exam within BlackBoard when I taught at a very small music deparment and it worked very well! Students completed it before arriving for the fall semester. I gave a presentation about online placement testing at ATMI in 2004. 

      Question topics included rhythm, meter, scales, key signatures, intervals, and chord spellings.

      I favored multiple choice questions for which the answers were images. Wrong answers are almost correct, but not, so that the student who doesn't really know the right answer is not likely to guess correctly.

      Another tactic is to provide many possible answers to choose from, so that it's unlikely a student who doesn't know the correct answer can guess the correct one.

      Several years ago, I created an online fundamentals "text" within the Texas State course management system, which allows non-TxSt users to join.  Just let me know if you'd like access.  I can envision creating a mirror site for your students -- they can study, take online practice exams, and then take the real exam. 


    • Yes; we have a test that was originally for Blackboard, and now it's moved over to Canvas. It covers notation (points to certain pitches on a keyboard and has the student choose the correct notation for that pitch), scales (students choose the correct spelling from several options), key signatures, intervals, and triads. For the last three, the multiple choice format is a little tricky. For identifying key signatures, the question specifies whether we want the major or minor key, and they have to choose two options: the correct letter name (given all the options from A to G), and the correct accidental (flat, natural, sharp). The options are similar for identifying intervals and triads.


    • For those of you who do test online, has cheating been a problem? For instance, a student's parent or friend taking it for them, leaving them totally unprepared for the fall semester? 

      This is my biggest fear. Of course, in cheating they are hurting no one but themselves, but they also don't realize how much they don't know most of the time. 

    • We are looking for this as well at UCI. I set up something with Connect4education several years ago, but am looking for an in-house solution. A new instructional designer at our institution had built one for another school, but it contains many flash elements, which I'd like to avoid. Perhaps we can swap modules? If we each wrote one or two in canvas and shared them, it would be a quick build.

    • As anyone who saw my SMT talk knows, we have an online placement exam at FSU that assesses both achievement and ability.  Students who don't already know how to spell intervals, for instance, but who perform well on tasks that correlate with success in music theory are placed into regular theory rather than a remedial fundamentals class.  The ability portion of the test essentially must be administered online because it includes individual items with very short time limits (half a second).

      I am aware of one student who cheated on the exam (which is not to say that there aren't others).  That student did extremely poorly in the first few weeks of Theory I and felt compelled to confess and drop down to Fundamentals.  I hope that the student learned from the experience, because we didn't think we had the option of punishing the student for an exam that resulted in no grade and a dishonest action that occurred before the student was even enrolled at FSU.  If we ever suspect that cheating is a significant problem, we will probably ask students to take the exam in person at our testing center (where the exams are online but the room is proctored, and students must provide identification) when they are on campus for orientation.