Sähköisen tenttimisen pedagogisia ja teknisiä kysymyksiä

Sähköisen tenttimisen pedagogisia ja teknisiä kysymyksiä ovat ansiokkaasti käsitelleet Anshuman Khare ja Helen Lam artikkelissaan Assessing student achievement and progress with online examination: some pedagogical and technical issues, joka ilmestyi International Journa of E-Learning -lehdessä 2008.  Ohessa englanninkielistä opintopiiriä varten laadittu tiivistelmä artikkelista.

In recent decades computers have become more and more important part of teaching. There is extensive body of writings about how to teach online and about the benefits of online learning, but online examinations have received less attention. Anshuman Khare and Helen Lam’s article scrutinizes the issue of online examination taking into account both the pedagogical and technical aspects of them.

The most important pedagogical issue is how the learning objectives of the courses are met.  The online examinations are often rejected based on the arguments that students’ learning must be tested on closed book exams and that the online examinations should include the automatic grading of answers which limits the type of questions that can be used.  However, the writers point out that the close book examinations measure only memorizing of the learning material which is not very relevant for learning objectives in higher level education where students need the ability to think critically, and integrate new knowledge from the different learning materials.  A good way to assess this kind of ability is an open book examination which allows the students to review the learning material as well as some extra material while taking the exam.  These kinds of exams are suitable in particular to take online.

The other pedagogical issues that usually concern opponents of the online exams are grading and academic honesty.  Answers to qualitative questions cannot be graded automatically; the exams need judges who do the grading. However, the writers claim that this is not an adequate reason to reject online examinations because qualitative assessment is more appropriate for high-level learning.  The issue of academic honesty involves several aspects, but the main worry is how to make sure that the individual taking the test is the student whose performance is meant to be assessed. Sometimes in online examinations computer centers with proctors are used, but this is not necessary.  Firstly, in principle, new technology makes it possible to verify the identity in advance.  Secondly, there are other factors that can be done to enhance academic honesty: building the questions on specific cases, not on general knowledge;  giving the students lots of opportunities to practice for the exam during the course so persons outside the course will have no advantage of doing the exam;  the exams should demand a lot of time and effort thus it is not easy to find anyone willing to take the test instead of the student; the exam can be only one part of the assessment process of the course where the acquiring of knowledge is emphasized, not gaining marks; and finally, honor codes are found to be effective in decreasing academic dishonesty.

Two technical issues are mentioned that influence students’ achievement in online examinations. The first is the question whether to use synchronous or asynchronous examinations. If the students have to receive the examination questions at the same time and all will have the same questions, the synchronous online examinations may be appropriate.  Asynchronous online examinations allow more flexibility concerning time and place, but allowing students to take their examinations in individual time frame may not be practical. For this reason Khare and Lam recommend a middle-of-the-road approach: a limited time, which can last few days, when the exam can be completed.

The second technical issue is the availability of technical and academic support during online examination.  Online exams may be suitable in particular for students who already have easy access to computers, and the selected software must meet the pedagogical needs of high level learning. In addition, it is essential to offer helpdesk support for students during the examination.

The writes conclude that adopting the online examination makes the education available all around the world, although it requires a team of dedicated academics and support staff to succeed.

Khare, A. & Lam, H. (2008). Assessing student achievement and progress with online examinations: some pedagogical and technical issues. International Journal of E-Learning, 7(3), 383-402.

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