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Digital Examination: easier marked and faster results

Digital examination is an emerging new form of examination: exams are easier to mark and students get their grades faster. This year, on the basis of the central Pilot Project Digital Examination, the Expertise Centre for Online Learning (ECOLe) set out to make it possible for the Humanities Faculty to organize large-scale digital examinations, taking place at the University Sports Centre.

The new way of examination

According to Ferdinand Harmsen, ICT Programme Manager in Language Education, digital examination has many advantages. ‘The main advantage is that it lowers working pressure for lecturers. Digital examination makes it easier, for example, to mark exams: lecturers no longer need to decipher handwriting and can easily and quickly assign points to open-ended questions with the aid of an answer key. Closed-ended questions are automatically marked. In addition to multiple choice questions, there are many other question types that one can choose for their questions. It also makes it easy to add media files to an exam. In addition, digital examination is also a solution for students: they would rather type out answers to essay-questions, because this is faster than writing, and because they can more easily review their answers.

A first for the Humanities

On Monday May 27th, the first digital exam was held at the USC: 81 students took a digital exam for Dutch Studies. They made use of specifically set up Chromebooks, on which they took the test using Remindo (the examination programme the faculty uses). The Chromebooks were provided by the university's project Digital Assesment. In this project, the university, its faculties and the USC work together to hold various large scale digital exams in the USC in 2019 and 2020. For this purpose, 400 Chromebooks have been purchased.

Students take the exam

‘For months we have worked on making digital examination possible in the USC, because there is much more to it than you’d think,' says Jiske Angenent, assistant at ECOLe. ‘An exam has to be uploaded digitally and the students must be linked to the exam. Instructions have been made for the students, teachers and supervisors so that they know how to prepare for a digital exam and how to work with the examination app. Together with Student Affairs and ISSC, the ECOLe team set up an exam procedure for digital examination in the USC: 'We wanted to make sure that the examination would run smoothly on the Chromebooks provided for this purpose; a test day took place prior to the actual exam.’

The result? Passed! 

It was nevertheless exciting to see whether the very first digital examination in the USC would run smoothly. Educational advisor ICT and education Anna Benjamins says: 'Fortunately there were no major problems and, although it was quite stressful for us, the students were very enthusiastic. They gave the digital exam an average of 7.7!

Taking a digital exam goes a lot faster than taking an exam in paper form. In addition, you save on paper and when it comes to open-ended questions, misinterpretations because of somebody’s handwriting are impossible,' said one of the students afterwards.

Teachers (Olga van Marion & Anouk Beishuizen) were also very satisfied!

The majority of the students were satisfied with the use of the Chromebooks. A few students indicated that they would rather be examined using paper exams because they were afraid that their answers would disappear: 'I was a little worried about what would happen if the computers crashed'.

The ECOLe experts were able to reassure these students: 'Even in the event of technical problems, answers are always stored locally and can therefore never be lost.

All in all, this first large-scale exam was a success. Both students and teachers were enthusiastic. And because the test only consisted of closed-ended questions, it was immediately automatically marked. As a result, students quickly got their results and can look at them at home or in the classroom.

Would you like to know what the examination programme for the students looks like? Take the demo test: universiteitleiden.remindotoetsdemo.nlAre you curious about digital examination within the Humanities Faculty? Let us know via ecole@hum.leidenuniv.nl

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