E-exams

In Trinity term 2018, the Department of Computing Science, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Theology and Religion trialled a digital examination solution. The system allows students who are sitting timed, invigilated essay-type examinations to type - rather than handwrite - their responses.

IT Services planned the trials with colleagues in the three participating departments with additional support and expertise provided by colleagues in Education Policy Support, Examinations and Assessments, and the Medical Sciences Division.

The trials  investigated how the logistics of typed examinations might fit with Oxford University’s requirements across a range of areas such as user experience and preferences, technology (software and hardware), support and training, and policy issues. The outcome of the trial  include recommendations relating to e-exams at Oxford. 

Details are in the drop-down sections below. 

Update: E-exams trial delivered successfully  

The Education IT Programme would like to extend its thanks to all involved in the successful delivery of the E-exams trial which took place on 20 and 21 April, particularly the students and staff from the Department of Computing Science, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Theology and Religion. Any questions should be sent to edu-it@it.ox.ac.uk  

Students interested in feedback for their exam should refer to question 14 of the FAQs for students: 'How do I know when my script is marked and get to view the feedback comments?'

The E-exams project will investigate the potential of the digital examination system for use with typed, invigilated examinations by funding and running trials during the start of Trinity term 2018. The complete digital solution will contain components to enable the creation, delivery, typing, submission and (optionally) marking of examinations electronically. There is no intention to change current workflows with regard to examination and marking processes. 

The three participating departments / faculties will offer the students taking part in the trial a choice of either typing their responses on a computer provided by the University, or on their own device. 

Staff and students affected by the trials will be contacted by the end of January 2018. 

 

Initially, trials will be exclusively formative examinations, that is, those that do not determine students’ progression in their programme of study. These were chosen for the trial to ensure the least impact on the students involved. We will also be working very closely with colleges to ensure the least amount of disruption to the processes in place. Under Theology, Science and Religion will be included, with Law covering Comparative Law, Corporate Law and Concepts in Financial Law. Computer Science exams are still to be confirmed.

The Digital Education Strategy consultation identified increasing interest in trialling the use of technology for examinations. The trials will result in recommendations for e-exams at Oxford.  

Based on published research and the experience of peer institutions, some of the potential benefits are listed below. 

For students:

  • Typing examination responses is a natural extension of typing formative assessments; it is also more authentic in relation to the world of work.
  • Students can easily insert, delete, edit and reorganise their text while typing; E-exams support those who prefer a non-linear approach when composing a response.
  • The scripts of candidates with permission to type due to disability or medical conditions would be indistinguishable, and more candidates could take their exams alongside their peers.

For academic staff:

  • Typed examination scripts are easier to read than handwritten ones and should therefore be quicker and easier to mark.
  • Markers can choose to receive the electronic scripts immediately after the exam has ended, and can mark concurrently rather than sequentially.
  • Marking exams on-screen (if desired) reduces the use of paper, saves transporting bulky paper scripts, and can be undertaken remotely.

This project is being carried out by IT Services in conjunction with the Department of Computing Science, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Theology and Religion. 

The following are also closely involved:

  • Medical Sciences Division - to assist in trialling and evaluating the examinations software
  • Education Policy Support - to assess policy implications and liaise with internal governance structures
  • Examinations and Assessments - to coordinate examination requirements and processes

 

Additional Frequently Asked Questions for staff and students are below:

 

 

If you have any queries about the E-exams project, please contact edu-it@it.ox.ac.uk. 

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