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Education Online Teaching for staff Exams

Online written exams

Before deciding if you want to use online written exams, please consider the benefits and challenges we listed below. At all times, try to keep the exam’s validity and reliability in consideration.

With online written exams students will have access to online resources and books. You might also see it as an exam which is more a real life situation where they demonstrate they can use those resources. Design the exam in such a way that students can express complexity of thought and creativity. Closed questions like: “Who was the first president of the United States?” “What year did the Battle of Trafalgar take place?” make it easy for students to tell each other the right answer.

It might also be useful to check afterwards if some students have exceptional results and add an additional oral exam.

Important information before you start

Always check with the Board of Examiners before making any changes to your exams and how they are administered!

Keep in mind that making changes to an exam can throw off your course’s alignment. Make sure that a new online exam tests the same cognitive levels (e.g. knowledge and insight, application or analysis, see Bloom’s taxonomy).

We also strongly recommend you consult with your colleagues, department, and faculty before finalizing any changes to your assessment structure, and make sure you meet the guidelines set by the exam committee.

Getting started with online written exams

If you plan to have an online written exam, please register at least five working days before the exam takes place in order for us to provide you with the right template exam course, even if your exam was already scheduled as a digital exam. If you want to schedule an exam, please contact your faculty scheduler.

Any questions on preparing the exam, difficulties you experience and feedback can be sent to digitaaltoetsen We will monitor this email inbox closely and respond as soon as possible.
For online written exams are manuals and a workflow created on how to get you started.

Benefits of online written exams

  1. Higher Order Skills: online written exams are a great way to assess creativity and higher cognitive levels such as synthesis, evaluation, critical thinking and creation.
  2. Authenticity: online written exams can be very authentic forms of assessment, as students use the same resources they have access to outside of the classroom and would use in their careers.
  3. Relevance: they are also a great way to ask students to work on a current or real world problem.
  4. Group Work: it is possible, and maybe desirable, to let students work in groups.
  5. Flexibility: it is possible, and maybe desirable, to give students an extended period of time, such as a few days, to complete the work. Keep in mind that you might have students working in different time zones and with other restrictions. You can give students, say, 24 hours to complete the assignment but make clear that it is a task that does not need, or would even benefit from, more than 2 or 3 hours of work.

Challenges of online written exams

  1. Resources: Students can and will use all the resources they have at their disposal (everything online, course material).
  2. Specificity: Generic questions or topics may give students too much opportunity to use online resources without analysing or synthesizing them. Pretend to be one of your students: what does Google say when you start researching your question?
    - Compare and contrast essays or specific pairings of sources. This might limit students’ capacity to use online resources.
    - Application and interpretation questions similarly work well, such as asking students to apply theoretical knowledge in a new situation.
  3. Plagiarism: Even though they require original thinking and creative work, online written exams can still be (partially) plagiarized. Use Ephorus assignments in Nestor to test for plagiarism and to make sure they are accessible for Board of Examiners.
  4. Fraud: Especially with closed questions it is rather easy for students to inform each other about the right answer. Proctoring (online video surveillance) cannot be supported at this stage.
Last modified:08 June 2020 2.41 p.m.
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