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Students positive about exam on computer

Review of written exams is a burden to lot of our teaching staff. In a lot of cases the students’ handwriting is hard to read and corrections made by students turn reviewing into a jigsaw puzzle trying to piece together the answers in partially crossed texts, footnotes or by following the arrows.

tentamen op de computer

At TPM a lecturer contacted the IT department, asking about possibilities to have students take their exam on the computer in a secure environment. And so last January and April (re-exams) his students took the exam behind the computer, typing their answers into a protected Word-document in a secure environment: no access to the internet, other applications or network locations. The questions and the articles used in the exam were presented on screen in one and the same Word document. The answers needed to be typed into a text box beneath each question. These text boxes had a fixed size and students were not able to change formatting in these boxes.

Afterwards, a survey was held amongst participants, asking them about their experience with this kind of exams. More than 80% of the participants responded (n=96) and overall their response was positive. In general they preferred typing over writing. Many respondents said it saved time and cramped hands. About 10 percent of the responds stated they preferred a written exam, mostly because they found it harder to read from a computer screen. 39% of the responds stated that they would have preferred to get the articles they had to read on paper, so they could highlight parts of the text or add comments helping them to answer the questions more easy.

When asked if they would prefer other courses to also take exams on the computer, 41% said they like to have more exams on the computer. 52% was positive, but said it should depend on the type of exam (for instance: no sketching or elaborate calculations). Some students mentioned that typing the answers helped them to formulate their answers better, since they could refrase and correct their answers easier and more clear.

An important disadvantage the respondents reported was the noise of typing in the exam room. Some advised to hand out earplugs others advised to install  a more silent type of keyboard. Students also preferred having a spelling checker available.

Overall students appreciated this way of examination and they think it suits modern time.

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