Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Online exams and alternatives

Online Exams and Alternatives

The shift to online exams means that the traditional exams just aren’t going to work in the online setting and we will need to adapt.

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Better end of session exams FAQs

The following questions were asked during the recent professional learning sessions on better end of session exams. In some cases, responses provided during the session have been enhanced after further consultation.

Keyboard v handwriting

Q: What about students who can’t type quickly?

A: We encourage you to provide students with enough time to answer each question and do not make the time limit for short, long and essay question too tight to disadvantage students who are unable to type quickly.  It is preferable not to use tight time limits for academic integrity purposes – consider writing authentic questions.

Cadmus

Q: What is Cadmus?

A: Cadmus is an online assessment platform, accessed through Interact2 that enables academics to easily create and manage written assessments. Designed to facilitate teaching and learning best practice, Cadmus can be used to provide supportive learning experiences to students and understand ongoing engagement. Cadmus allows us to provide embedded support to students while they complete their assessment—at the point of need.  Cadmus also allows us to gain an understanding of how students are engaging with an assessment prior to submission. You can learn more about Cadmus here: https://cadmus.io/getting-started/teachers/intro-to-cadmus .We held a workshop earlier this year with Cadmus staff and CSU academics. The session ran for about an hour and took staff through what Cadmus is and how it works.

Test banks

Q: Why should I set up multiple test banks?

A: To enhance academic integrity without impacting equity. With multiple test banks each student will be sitting a slightly different exam, so it reduces the chance of collusion. Many subjects set up a pool of 'easy' questions, 'moderate' questions and 'complex' questions. Make sure you refer to the exam script prepared by DLT to ensure you optimise the settings of your test bank.

Q: Is there an easy way to review the pool of questions in Interact2 so we can rewrite or allocate to a pool without having to go into each question?

A: One way to easily review a pool of questions in Interact2 is to deploy a test with all the questions from the pool. Set it up to display the questions ‘all at one’. You can also create a Word version of the questions, if that is of value. You ‘take the test’ you have created by clicking the test link and then print this view and "save as pdf". You can then convert the PDF to a Word file for editing and re-uploading as a pool in Interact2.

One on one assistance

Q: Can I get one on one help with adapting my questions, constructing new questions and deciding on the most appropriate exam platform?

A: Absolutely, DLT would be very happy to assist. Just lodge an SRS.

File upload

Q: Is it a good idea to set up Interact2 exams which include attachments such as an article, longer case study or a formula sheet?

A: Yes DLT can link it as a hyperlink when building the exam, just make that clear in your exam request and to your students in the lead up to the exam.  If you decide to add an attachment to your exam, it is advised that you also add an attachment to a practice exam, as not all students have the software on their computer to download all file types, for example there were some issues last session in downloading Word documents if students did not have Word. It is also important that the file size is not too large.

Q: Is it a good idea to set Interact2 exams that require students to upload some or all of their response it Interact2?

A: This can be a good option for part of your exam, however if you were considering an upload for your entire exam, consider using EASTS as a submission method instead. If you are expecting your students to record their responses in Word then ensure they can access a version of it beforehand. Avoid students uploading images with large file sizes by asking them to create .docx or .pdf file. Once again it is advised that this sort of question is included in a practice exam to provide students with an opportunity to ‘practice’ the technology.

Q: Can students still upload files if the cut and paste function is blocked?

A: Yes, the uploading of files is not impacted by ‘cut and paste’.

Turnitin

Q: Are their issues created by students using resources in an open book exam?

A:  Overall it is a similar situation to exam in an exam hall, it is all about the requirements/expectations you set to students in the exam in the use of those resources. It could raise the likelihood of misuse, due to approved availability of those resources. If they are required to perform basic referencing such as quotation marks, then those results are easily visible in the Turnitin Report. If there is a requirement for paraphrasing of content then that may also be readily visible.

Q: Are there any issues with similarity matches if students use an open access textbook?

A: Many publishers contribute their proprietary texts to Turnitin for their own matches so there could be more matches shown but overall the matches shown should be to the same amount but possibly just from more diverse sources.

Time zones

Q: How will we cater to students sitting online exams in significantly different time zones?

A: If the exam is time limited, time zones are a challenge. We can either offer students an option of sitting the exam in their time zone or increase the window of time students can access their exam (such as access the exam in any 2 hour window in a 24 hour period). For take home exams if it is designed in a way that we can give students days rather than hours it is less of an issue. Once the exam timetable has been set, the Exams Teams will be contacting the affected staff to check and see if they are happy for the exam to be adjusted for students sitting in time zones outside of AEDT. An exam time will only be adjusted if the start time for the student is outside the allowable window in policy.

Cut and paste

Q: Does the prevent cut and paste functionality stop cutting and pasting from Interact2 as well as into Interact2?

A: Yes. We can prevent cut and paste both ways.

Q: In the marking phase, is it possible for the examiner to be able to cut and paste when providing feedback, even though that option was not available to the students in the exam itself?

A: Yes.

Short answer questions

Q: Can short answer questions be randomised?

A: Yes but be aware of the challenges of marking large cohorts if you have markers allocated to specific questions rather than whole exams. Also be aware that we cannot then guarantee the order of question, for example if a case study is relevant to questions 1, 2 and 3 and the questions build upon each other, the questions will be presented in a randomised order and likely confuse students.

Time limits

Q: Does a 2 hour paper based exam translate to a 2 hour exam online or is more time needed?

A: If the questions are essentially the same then yes but it would be wise to check this as part of the QA process. We also have the option of a technology allowance (indicate on the exam request form) to allow for issues with drop outs etc. and would recommend that this is offered in all exams.

Academic integrity

Q: Will an academic integrity statement, that student’s must agree to, be automatically included as part of all online exams?

A: Yes

Zoom invigilation

Q: Assuming my exam meets the criteria for an invigilated exam and has Head of School approval, is there a limit to the number of students that can be invigilated via Zoom?

A: No but as we have 2 invigilators per Zoom room of 20 students, the more students the more Zoom rooms and invigilators we will require.

Q: What if students claim they don’t have a camera?

A:  They should buy one but if that is a challenge Student Welfare and Finance Advisers can help your students access financial support to buy a webcam or microphone for an invigilated exam. If their camera fails on the day, students can log into Zoom on their mobile phone for the exam.

Word limit

Q: Who do students contact when things go wrong during the exam?

A: Phone support is available via Student Central and the DIT service desk for real time online student support.

Q: Will the online exams content pushed out to Interact2 sites be visible to students?

A:  Yes but some of the items within that area will be hidden until work commences on your exam build.

Multiple exams

Q: Can you request more than one exam in the exams period for the one subject?

A:  Yes this feature is available in the exam request portal. There are specific steps you need to follow to request multiple exams so make sure you check the user guide for lodging exam requests.

Exam build process

Q: Will I be notified once our exam is built in Interact2 so that we can check it?

A:  Heads of School will be notified once exams are complete.

Q: Can I build my own exam in Interact2 and just have DLT check it?

A: Yes, but you should still complete the exam script so DLT staff can QA your exam to make sure everything is ready for your students.

Student communications

Q: Should we wait for a central communication from the University to students confirming online exams before we talk to our students about them?

A: That communication has been sent so you are free to talk to your students about their exam being online. Ensure that you wait until changes to the subject outline tool before you vary your outline and that information in there is consistent with the exams request.

Grade Centre

Q: Can we get access to individual student responses in Interact2 once Grade Centre is locked?

A:  No unfortunately not. At this stage, you will need to log an SRS request to have grade centre unlocked to view student responses (e.g. for review of grade or to provide student feedback).  DIT are looking into a long-term solution.

For advice and exemplars of assessments that can legitimately replace an end of session exam, maintain academic integrity and be implemented relatively quickly, click on the hyperlinks in the table below.

Examples of possible alternatives to paper based exams Non-time limited Time-limited, non-invigilated, online Invigilated, online
Report X X  
Case study/scenario-based questions X X X
Essay X X X
Newspaper article/editorial X X  
Literature review X   
Short answer questions   X X
Multiple choice questions   X X
Student presentations X X  
Posters/infographics X   
Portfolio X   
Reflection X X  
Annotated bibliography X X  
OSCE  X X
Viva Voce  X X

Some suggestions for supporting academic integrity

  • Set questions that require students to make use of their subject material rather than simply locating or rewriting information.
  • Require students to submit workings, calculations, proofs or justifications for their answers.
  • Require student responses to be contextualised to their own experience.

Updating Subject Outline and EASTS/Grade Centre

When varying your subject outline to substitute an end of session exam with an assessment to be submitted via EASTS, leave the assessment number the same as it can cause issues if changed. Republish the outline and that should be all that is needed. EASTS is created overnight.