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Remote testing

Until February 2020, all degree programmes and associated courses will offer online teaching and assessment. Below we provide tips and tools on digital examination to support teachers.

Information about various ways of digital assessment and surveillance

Manual for Digital Assessment

Possible tools for digital examination

Several forms of assessment can be offered in an online manner: presentations, multiple choice exams, exams with essay questions or oral exams. Presentations and oral exams can be conducted by video calls. Exams with multiple choice or essay questions can be administered with online software. 

For the short term it’s important to focus on existing infrastructure and organised support within the faculties. The following options could be used immediately. These options don’t have built-in checks that monitor and identify the student during the exam. 

  • LMS: Brightspace and Blackboard can be used to host the exam online. It has the possibility to release exams and even questions based on different criteria. All teachers have been working with this tool, and in every faculty there is technical support available.
  • Examination Tools: ANS and Remindo are platforms specialised in examination. Because they are specialised in exams they are being considered more user friendly for this task than a general platform like Brightspace or Blackboard. All faculties within Leiden University have a license for ANS or Remindo. Currently a public tender is being prepared for a central examination license.
  • E-mail: The exam can be mailed at the start time of the exam to the student. Teachers can send the exam in a Word file to the student and set a certain time before they have to send it back. Exams that have been sent outside this time slot can be declared invalid.
  • Skype or Office365 Teams: An oral exam by Skype could be interesting for a small group of students. For the teacher this option doesn't require much administration, but is labour intensive.
  • Online Proctoring: LMS & examination tools that host exams could be supplemented with online proctoring software. Online proctoring identifies the exam maker and lowers the risk of unethical student behavior. Currently proctoring software is not yet available at Leiden University, but we are looking into potential suppliers.

Digital examination can require a redesign of exam items

Due to the risk of unethical student behavior, take-home exams are not recommended on the lowest taxonomy level. Therefore (multiple choice) questions that aim at testing knowledge (recalling facts and basic concepts) and comprehension (explaining ideas or concepts) are less recommendable. 

For take-home exams it is better to adopt the approach of an ‘open book exam’: questions or assignments that aim at drawing connections among ideas or justifying a stand or decision for example. These type of questions or assignments are more likely to test the degree in which students can use information in a new way or create a new point of view. Possible forms are essays or even a podcast or media item. When designing an alternative form for exams, keep in mind that the alternative must correspond with the level of knowledge and skills that intended with the program or course. Also for alternative forms of exams the quality standards as stated in the OER apply.

Students must be given the opportunity to prepare for their exams. Therefore a five working day notification period for new exams is required. If possible, it is desirable that teachers also notify the students about the alternative form of examination they can expect.

Lowering the risk of unethical student behavior: awareness and trust

In case of digital examination at universities, exams take place at standardised examination locations. Such locations are well tested and secured. In our current situation, we can only provide take-home exams. Because of this, questions arise such as How do I know the right person is taken the exam? or How can you prevent students from consulting sources unauthorised?

Also with standardised examination locations a hundred percent safety from unethical student behavior is not guaranteed. Awareness and trust are therefore key components of safe examination procedures – in the present circumstances even more than usual. Below several tips are listed to promote safe examination procedures:

  • Make arrangements about which devices can be used for working on assignments or exam questions (laptops, tablet, smartphone, own equipment, etc.).
  • At home, students can consult all kinds of sources of information. You have no control over that. As mentioned above, not all types of questions are therefore suitable for take-home exams. That’s why it is important to redesign your exam questions. 
  • Also, limit the time to finish the exam to diminish the risk of physical or online collaboration between students, or searching for information online or in other sources. With that in mind, set a realistic time slot for the exam.
  • Make sure that in online assessment tools an exam can only be taken once (some emergency procedure must be available for exceptions)
  • Always check the student’s identity at the start of the exam. This mainly applies to exams that are not administered with an online assessment tool.
  • It is important to realise that it is almost impossible to prevent exam questions from being spread around amongst other students. Therefore, exam questions cannot be re-used.

More information

The Centre for Innovation and ICLON are organising webinars to provide information and answer questions on technical and didactical needs for remote teaching. They are open to all teachers and staff at Leiden University. Keep an eye on the website www.universiteitleiden.nl/remoteteaching for exact dates and times.

In 'Take-Home Exams in Higher Education: A Systematic Review' of Lars Bengsston (2019) you can find some theoretical argumentation for take-home exams: Take-Home Exams in Higher Education: A Systematic Review.

Need help?

If you still have questions, use the Remote Teaching Tile in the Helpdesk to get in touch with the Remote Teaching Support Team. With urgent questions, call 071 527 8888.

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